Australia’s renewable energy sector appears to be bucking the trend of the political sphere and finding success through the market, as stalled efforts to bring energy policy through parliament did not dampen sector growth.
A further 10GW of wind and solar power are set for installation over the next two years, and if this trend carries on, then half the country should be running on renewable energy in about seven years’ time.
These findings come at an interesting time, given that the failure of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to bring his National Energy Guarantee through parliament saw the end of his tenure. This failure was principally due to disagreements over levels of carbon emissions and adherence to the 2015 Paris climate change accord.
The struggles in the political arena to achieve a consistent cross-party energy policy has, in part, led to four different coups in Australia over the last decade. This has seen the last four incumbent Prime Ministers all unable to bring their premiership to a full term and into the next set of polls.
Renewable energy performances continuing on a positive trend will enthuse its backers, who are looking to push aspects forward despite a lack of cohesive support from Canberra.
Further analysis from the Australian National University’s (ANU) Energy Change Institute suggests that the nation even has the capacity to turn around a complete power grid source through renewables by the early 2030s.
This trend recognizes the progress of the renewable sector in the last couple of years alone. The record-breaking year of 2017 ushered in an additional 2,200MW of capacity, and a significantly greater 10,400MW is due to arrive this year and next. This breaks down to roughly 70% large-scale projects, with the rest classed as rooftop solar additions.
At a per capita rate of 224W for every person per year, these results are among the highest of any world nation. This underlines Australia’s potential to make the most of how well-suited its climate is to host renewable energy sources and see efficient returns.
These levels of growth suggest that the country will outstrip most original targets set by governments and policymakers in the past. Australia is likely to beat its large-scale renewable energy target (LRET), and analysts believe that the capacity is available to surpass the initial 41TWh production target, which the Abbott government scaled back to the 33TWh in place at present. This demonstrates how far Australia has progressed in just a few years.
There are some clear trends in place that support these predictions. The first is that current demand should stay relatively consistent, as it has changed by only small amounts over the last decade.
The rate of wind power and large- and small-scale solar PV deployment should also stay the same, with each new plant registering a certain level of production. Capacity factors should also remain consistent when it comes to large-scale projects involving solar and wind.
Once improvements or changes come into play, progress should only advance rather than slow down. Meanwhile, the capacity of hydro and bio-sourced renewables should continue to be stable, and there is an expectation that fossil fuels can meet their remaining demand over the next decade.