The Climate Council’s latest report reveals Australian states and territories are overall supporting renewable energy after two years of federal uncertainty.
When it comes to renewable energy progress, Game On: Australia’s Renewable Energy Race Heats Up reveals South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory are acing the class.
Despite the Baird Government promising to make NSW “Australia’s answer to California”, however, NSW has dropped to the lowest share of renewable energy among the states. The state received the worst renewable report grade due to the lowest (and falling) percentage of renewable electricity, low large-scale renewable capacity per person, no renewable energy target, and low levels of rooftop solar.
“Joining an emerging trend (in South Australia and Victoria) to use government procurement to increase renewable energy, the NSW Government has sought tenders to provide 137GWh of renewable energy (equivalent to 40-60MW of additional renewable generating capacity) to power the Sydney Metro Northwest Project,” the report said.
“However, draft NSW planning guidelines for wind farms released in 2011 are yet to be finalised five years later, holding up wind projects and creating uncertainty for wind energy developers.
“The NSW Government also removed the specific position within the ministry responsible for promoting renewable energy following the 2015 election; namely the parliamentary secretary for renewable energy.”
The number of states and territories with renewable energy targets has increased from two to four in the last year. The ACT has the highest target (100 per cent by 2020), followed by SA (50 per cent by 2025), Queensland (50 per cent by 2030 and one million solar rooftops), and Victoria (at least 20 per cent by 2020). Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, like NSW, do not have renewable energy targets.
All states, except VIC and NSW, have also increased the proportion of renewable energy in their electricity supply in the last two years.
“Renewable energy tenders from state and territory governments (such as the ACT’s reverse auction process and Queensland’s Ergon Energy tender for large-scale solar) have played a role in boosting Australia’s appeal as a place to invest in renewable energy,” the report said.
While SA has seen the greatest increase in its share of renewable energy of Australian states – going from 26 per cent renewable electricity in 2013 to 40 per cent in 2014, NSW is still relying on fossil fuels, such as coal and gas (90 per cent or more of the power supply).
The research also reported low levels of rooftop solar in NSW. Queensland (29.6 per cent) and SA (28.8 per cent), on the other hand, are approaching almost a third of homes with solar – far ahead of the other states. Western Australia is in third place on 22.5 per cent.
There are now 14 postcodes in Australia in which more than half of households have rooftop solar, leading the Climate Council to suggest rooftop solar PV panels could soon become as common as home insulation.
2016 states and territories renewable energy score card
Leading the pack: SA, ACT, TAS
Middle of the pack: QLD, WA, VIC
Lagging behind: NT, NSW