Australia could have 100 per cent renewable electricity by the early 2030s if the current rate of installations by industry continues into 2020 and beyond, according to analysis by the Australian National University (ANU).
Experts from ANU analysed Australian Government renewable energy project data that showed during 2018 and 2019 Australia would install about 10,400MW of new renewable energy.
Energy Change Institute director Professor Ken Baldwin said if the current rate of renewable energy installations continues, Australia would eclipse the Renewable Energy Target, with 29 per cent renewable electricity in 2020, and 50 per cent in 2025.
“We estimate electricity emissions would thereby be reduced by 26 per cent in 2021, and the electricity sector on its own would meet Australia’s entire Paris emissions reductions target of 26 per cent by 2025,” Professor Baldwin said.
“Australian industry is proving it’s not difficult or expensive to make deep and rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
“All the evidence points to Australia’s capacity to be a renewable energy superpower, with all the economic and environmental benefits that come with that.
“We need Australia’s governments to put in place the right plans for the renewable energy train to have a smooth ride.”
Professor Andrew Blakers from ANU Research School of Engineering said the new capacity coming is divided approximately equally between large-scale solar photovoltaics (PV), wind farms, and rooftop solar PV.
“Combined, the 10,400MW of new capacity to be installed in 2018 and 2019 represents about 30 per cent of Australia’s peak electricity demand,” Professor Blakers said.
“The Australian renewable energy industry is unequivocally demonstrating it has the technical capability to deliver vast quantities of cheap, reliable, secure and zero-emissions energy.
“Australia is installing wind and solar PV at a faster per capita rate than nearly every other country.”
ANU Research School of Engineering’s Dr Matthew Stocks said the rapidly growing supply of renewable energy into the electricity network requires effective planning to ensure enough storage and transmission capacity is built to deliver reliable energy to homes and businesses.
“The remaining piece of the puzzle is more storage and stronger interstate interconnection, which is where governments should be focussing their attention,” Dr Stocks said.
“Pumped hydro storage – such as the proposed Snowy 2.0 – is off-the-shelf technology, while batteries are rapidly falling in price.
“Our message is that the renewables train has developed great momentum, so policy makers need to get on board.”
The ANU analysis was based on publicly available data from the Clean Energy Regulator, and is available on the ECI publications website.