Australia’s RET will be met by 2020

Solar panels with wind turbines in background (CSIRO roadmap)

Australia is on track to meet its 2020 Renewable Energy Target, according to the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).

The CER has previously said to meet the target approximately 6000MW of capacity would need to be announced and built between 2016 and 2019.

Following a record level of investment in renewable energy in 2017, CER chair David Parker said Australia has reached a major milestone ahead of schedule.

“While announcements started slowly in 2016, the momentum we saw in the later part of that year continued throughout 2017 and has now reached a level we believe will be sufficient to meet the 2020 target,” Mr Parker said.

Of the 6532MW of new large-scale generation firmly announced since 2016, more than 4900MW is fully financed, with most already under construction or operating, while the rest is expected to begin construction early this year.

A further 1600MW of projects have a power purchase agreement (PPA) in place and are expected to progress to financial close.

Queensland will see the bulk of this new construction, followed by Victoria and New South Wales.

“In 2017, more than 1000MW of renewable projects were completed and began generation, the biggest year ever for new build coming online,” Mr Parker said.

“We expect 2018 and 2019 to be even bigger, with each year having more than double the new build completed compared to 2017.”

Of the firmly announced projects since 2016, solar makes up 46 per cent of the total new capacity.

“Solar is an important emerging player in the energy mix, particularly on long summer days,” Mr Parker said.

“There is still a long way to go on the journey to reach the 2020 target, but we believe it will be met due to the hard work and tenacity of the electricity sector, the renewables industry and those that have financed these projects.”

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the new projects would lead to an investment of more than $12 billion.

“As outlined in the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) 2017 Residential Electricity Price Trends Report, released in December, this extra supply is expected to apply downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices over the next three years,” he said.

“This year should see around 2600MW of new renewables projects commence operating which will further strengthen reliability and reduce emissions in addition to reducing electricity prices.

“This additional supply is expected to lead to a reduction in large-scale generation certificate spot prices. These certificates are purchased by liable entities, mostly electricity retailers, to meet their renewable energy target obligations.”