Australia is installing renewable energy generation sources faster than any other country on the planet.
That’s according to an analysis from researchers at ANU, who say record renewable energy installation rates in 2018 will continue through 2019 and 2020.
They claim that between 2018 and 2020, Australia will install more than 16 GW of wind and solar. This gives an average rate of 220 watts per person per year — 2.5 times faster than Germany, our closest competitor.
Regulator clinches renewable target
The decisive moment came when Australia reached its large-scale renewable energy goal of 33,000 GWh by 2020.
The goal was clinched with the approval of the 148.5 MW Cattle Hill Wind Farm on August 30, 2019.
In addition, Australians have installed roughly 9 GW of rooftop solar PV, by far the largest per capita rooftop PV uptake in the world.
However, the report notes that, “Unlocking investment in transmission is key to maintaining the renewable energy pipeline.”
This same warning was recently issued by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC). Given the dramatic increase in intermittent power sources like wind and solar, the AEMC wants power lines to be able to handle fluctuations in power flow.
We need to continue to decrease emissions
Despite the good news on renewables, in order to meet its Paris Agreement commitment, Australia still has to reduce carbon emissions.
Australia’s Paris Agreement target is a 26-28% reduction on 2005 emissions by 2030. Although emissions from electricity generation are falling as wind, hydro and solar power thrive, ‘stationary energy’ emissions have been steadily increasing.
Stationary emissions are produced by processes other than electricity generation, such as manufacturing, construction and transport.
‘Very low cost’ of solar power drives popularity
The ANU report outlines strong prospects for the continued high installation rates of renewables in Australia.
“The recent large growth in installations is driven in part by the very low cost of new solar and wind generation,” it states.
It adds that commercial battery storage is important as levels of renewable energy “approach and exceed 50%”.
The same principles apply in the home since the economics of electricity from solar panels are proven. Solar energy is essentially free once installation costs are met. But installing a battery ‘firms’ the power so you can use it on overcast days or at night.