Territory Trailblazer: How the ACT became the renewable capital of Australia

The ACT might be one of the smallest of Australia’s states and territories – but it punches well above its weight when it comes to renewable energy.

Our latest Territory Trailblazer report profiles the ACT’s leadership on renewable energy, illustrating the positive impact that one small territory can have in a few short years with political will and smart policy design.

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KEY FINDINGS

1. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is on track to acquire enough large-scale renewable energy to meet its 100% renewable electricity target by 2020.

  • The ACT is the first place in Australia where both major political parties have provided bipartisan support to a state or territory based target.
  • The ACT will reduce emissions by 3 million tonnes in 2020 by sourcing renewable instead of fossil fuelled electricity to meet the Territory’s needs.

2. Households in the ACT currently pay the lowest electricity prices in Australia.

  • The ACT’s “reverse auction” process has delivered record low wind and solar electricity prices, and in doing so has provided transparency around the cost of renewable electricity in Australia.
  • The prices for successful wind projects under the ACT’s process are equal to or lower than prices for electricity from new coal and gas plants in Australia.
  • The additional cost to households and small to medium enterprises peaks in 2020 at around $5.50 a week, with the ACT’s electricity prices remaining among the lowest in Australia.
  • To complement the renewable energy target, the ACT has introduced the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme expected to save $3.20 per household per week in 2020. Energy efficiency can offset the small price increases from investing in renewable energy sources.

3. The ACT’s support for the renewable energy sector during extended federal uncertainty proved critical for Australia’s renewable sector.

  • To date the ACT has supported the development of 640MW of large scale solar and wind capacity over four years.
  • At the end of 2015, the only wind projects under construction in Australia were those supported by the ACT’s policy.
  • While more than 5,000 jobs in renewable energy were lost nationally between 2012- 2015, the ACT’s policy will create more than 1,000 jobs in construction across the ACT, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.

4. The ACT is also breaking new ground in public support for battery technology.

  • The ACT is leading the country in battery storage by supporting the installation of 36MW of energy storage across more than 5,000 households and businesses by 2020 – the largest battery storage rollout in Australia.

5. Other Australian states and cities can learn from the ACT’s example.

  • Within five years, the ACT has shown that setting a seriously ambitious renewable energy target, is not only affordable but is also achievable, and creates jobs and investment for the Territory.
  • While recognising the ACT’s advantages - being small in size and population and having no major industries or fossil fuelled generation – other states and cities can learn from its approach to sourcing large amounts of renewable electricity in a short period of time, while delivering a range of economic and community benefits.
  • Other states such as Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are already following the ACT’s lead using reverse auctions to meet renewable energy commitments.

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