Renewable Energy Index - October 2018

30 Nov 2018

To assist the Australian community in understanding the role and contribution of renewable energy to meeting our energy needs while also providing an important source of employment and reducing pollution, Green Energy Markets produces the monthly Renewable Energy Index.

The index tracks the contribution of the renewable energy sector broken down by fuel type and state on a series of metrics that are intended to translate abstract concepts such as megawatts and tonnes of CO2 into concepts the community can understand and appreciate such as number of households powered, and number of cars’ pollution avoided.

October 2018

The recent rapid rate of wind and solar installations puts Australia’s main grids on track to have three-quarters of their electricity from renewables by 2030.

The renewable energy industry has built itself up to such a significant scale that even a 50% by 2030 renewables target will involve a significant contraction in activity and employment in the industry. The government’s 2030 target would involve a collapse.

  • October saw another record broken as Australian homes and businesses installed more than 150 megawatts of solar on rooftops for the first time. This is 76% greater than the monthly average of last year - which itself was a record year for installations.
  • The total amount of rooftop solar installed so far this year has already passed last year’s total and now stands at 1,243 megawatts. This exceeds the Liddell coal power station’s average capacity over last summer’s peak period. By the end of the year it’s quite likely the total capacity installed in 2018 will exceed the peak capacity of the recently closed.
  • Hazelwood coal power station. Such an amount of capacity could be expected to save solar system owners close to $3 billion in energy costs over the next ten years.
  • In terms of large-scale projects (wind and solar farms) there were 412 megawatts committed to construction in October, bringing the year to date total to just over 3,200 megawatts. This comes on top of 3,933 megawatts committed in the prior year.
  • If we maintained over the next decade the record rate of both rooftop solar installations and wind and solar farm construction commitments that have prevailed since 2017 then renewable energy would represent 78% of electricity supply across Australia’s west and east coast main grids. By comparison renewables made up 22.5% in October this year.
  • While a number of interest groups have criticised the 50% by 2030 renewable energy targets of the Federal Labor Party and several state Labor governments as too ambitious, they would in fact involve a major contraction in construction activity and employment in the renewable energy industry.
  • The amount of megawatts of new renewable energy capacity required each year to achieve a 50% target is around 1,850 megawatts. By comparison the average rate of construction commitments and rooftop solar installations over January 2017 to October 2018 is running at almost 5,150 megawatts per year. The Coalition’s 2030 emissions target, as embodied within the proposed National Energy Guarantee would involve a collapse to 839 megawatts per year.
  • Currently large-scale projects under construction as well as the October rate of solar installations support over 24,000 jobs per annum. The rate of installations required to deliver 50% renewable energy would see employment drop by three quarters to just under 5,900 jobs per annum. The Coalition’s target under the NEG would see more than 20,000 jobs lost in the renewable energy industry, with annual jobs dropping to 3,039.

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