CEC: One quarter of Australia’s electricity supply from renewables

CEC CSIRO, renewables clean energy council, CEC

2020 marked new ground for the Australian renewable energy industry, with a string of records for the rate of uptake of renewable energy across the country. The Clean Energy Council’s annual Clean Energy Australia report reveals that more than a quarter of Australia’s electricity supply now comes from renewable energy sources.

“Our industry is now generating enough clean energy to power every home in Australia 1.5 times over,” Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said.

“In the past five years, Australia’s renewable energy generation has almost doubled, increasing from 14.6 per cent in 2015 to 27.7 per cent in 2020.”

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While not without its challenges, 2020 was a record-breaking year for rooftop solar.

“Rooftop solar has again been one of the great success stories for the industry, despite COVID-19 shutdowns, with a record 378,451 systems installed across Australia,” Thornton said.

“As restrictions kept us at home, more people were looking for ways to keep energy bills down.”

Of the almost 2 GW of large-scale capacity added in 2020, the wind sector accounted for the bulk of new generation, adding 1097 MW throughout the year. This was a new record for the sector, comfortably surpassing the previous record of 837 MW set in 2019. The rate of new large-scale renewable energy projects reaching financial commitment was steady in 2020, though lower than the records reached in 2017 and 2018.

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Other highlights from 2020 include:

  • The renewable energy industry now employs more than 25,000 Australians and is a proven jobs enabler.
  • In 2020, almost 2 GW of new large-scale renewable generation capacity was added to the grid across 32 projects.
  • The momentum continues for the energy storage sector, with 16 utility-scale batteries under construction at the end of 2020, representing more than 595 MW of new capacity.
  • Corporate PPAs passed 1 GW for the first time, directly contracting 1.3 GW and supporting more than 4.5 GW of renewable energy generation.
  • By the end of 2020, the Clean Energy Council’s Approved Solar Retailer program had grown to 1141 participating companies, an increase of 66 per cent on 2019.
  • The number of Clean Energy Council accredited installers also grew strongly in 2020, increasing by 17 per cent to 7713. The program has seen remarkable growth alongside the solar industry, with the number of accredited installers surging by more than 3000 over the past five years.