• Renewables reach highest share of Australia's power in 40 years
Renewables reach highest share of Australia's power in 40 years
11 Feb, 2019, No Comment

Summary: Renewable power now accounts for one-fifth of all energy generated in Australia, the first time it has done so since the 1970s....

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The latest Green Energy Markets report says renewable power levels punched through the 20 per cent market share threshold in 2018 as new wind and solar farms are built and more households install rooftop solar systems.

Wind, solar and hydro accounted for more than 21 per cent of all electricity generated last year. This was up from 17 per cent seen in 2017 and an enormous spike from around 8.5 per cent of all generation seen in the early 2000s.

However, coal still accounts for just over 71 per cent of Australia’s power generation.

Green Energy Markets director Tristan Edis said this re-emergence of renewables comes after newly built coal-fired power stations displaced hydropower in the 1970s.

“Snowy Hydro and Hydro Tasmania had a lot of their capacity in place by the 1970s,” Mr Edis said.

“In terms of coal, [EnergyAustralia’s] Yallourn power station came online in the mid-1970s followed by [AGL’s] Loy Yang A and [Alinta’s Loy Yan B in the 1980s along with [Origin’s] Eraring and [AGL’s] Bayswater power stations. QLD then threw in a few major coal generators in the 1990s and 2000s.

“Renewables got down to 8.5 per cent market share in the 2000s as a consequence.”

The majority of this growth and renewables investment was centred on the east coast.

This increase in renewable generation also comes after the Victorian Hazelwood, NSW Munmorah, and South Australian Playford and Northern coal-fired power stations closed down over the last decade, reducing the level of coal generation.

In December 2018, renewables accounted for more than 23 per cent of all electricity generated in the country that month, or enough to power 10.7 million homes. Rooftop solar alone generated around 6 per cent of Australia’s power, however, the number of new installations was down significantly compared to earlier in the year.

Renewables level of generation was also down in December compared to September 2018, when renewables accounted for 24 per cent of the grid's power.

Year on year, wind and solar saw a large boost in generation levels.

Wind power increased by 26 per cent in 2018 after seeing very little growth in generation levels in 2017.

Rooftop solar boomed in 2018, with the number of installations nearly doubling compared to 2017.

A number of large-scale solar farms came online in 2018, generating more than 1000 megawatt hours of power for the first time, with the expectation of even more growth in 2019.

State by state, NSW, Queensland and Victoria are mainly powered by coal.

Coal's reliability has recently come into focus after two unplanned coal-fired power station generator failures in January contributed to rolling blackouts across Victoria, cutting power to around 200,000 households.

In NSW, coal-fired power plants generators failed on an average of nearly one every fortnight, according to a report by The Australia Institute.

South Australia is mostly powered by a mix of gas and wind, while Tasmania is mainly powered by hydro.


Cole Latimer, 07/02/2019, www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/renewables-reach-highest-share-of-australia-s-power-in-40-years-20190206-p50w1f.html

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