A new Climate Council report card on the renewable energy progress of Australia’s states and territories finds South Australia and the ACT are acing the class.
But NSW received the worst grade due to its low and falling percentage of renewable energy, no renewable energy target and low levels of rooftop solar.
The report Game On: Australia’s Renewable Energy Race Heats Up grades the states on their renewable energy policy settings and performance across a range of indicators including rooftop solar penetration, large-scale capacity per capita and percentage of renewable electricity.
It finds that policy support for renewable energy amongst the states continues to increase.
All states, except Victoria and NSW, have increased the proportion of renewable energy in their electricity supply since the Climate Council’s last state update in 2014.
The report also found:
- Of the states, South Australia (A) scored the highest grade followed by Tasmania (B), and Queensland (C), Western Australia (C), Victoria (C) and NSW (D).
- The territories could not be rated due to lack of comparable data but ACT was singled out for its strong leadership on renewable energy while NT performs poorly on a range of indicators and has no policies or targets related to renewable energy.
- Of the states, South Australia has seen the greatest increase in its share of renewable energy - going from 26% renewable electricity in 2013 to 40% in 2014.
- In NSW, QLD and Victoria, fossil fuels such as coal and gas still account for 90% or more of total power supply.
- Both Queensland (29.8%) and South Australia (28.8%) are approaching almost third of homes with solar and are far ahead of the other states. Western Australia is in third place on 22.5%.
Climate Councillor and energy expert Andrew Stock said state governments had stepped up their support for renewable energy over the last eighteen months to try to combat policy uncertainty and lack of investor confidence at a national level.
“State governments have a major role to play in tackling climate change and encouraging renewable energy investment,” he said.
“The number of states and territories with renewable energy targets has doubled in the last year while South Australia and the ACT, both already renewable energy leaders, have increased their ambition again on renewable energy.
“However, there is more to be done. Restrictive or uncertain planning rules are still holding back large renewable energy projects and more can be done to incentivise rooftop solar.
“States need to start planning for an orderly closure of Australia’s most polluting coal-fired power plants which would reduce oversupply and eliminate one of the key barriers to renewables investment.
“Achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030 is a key, achievable step Australia must take to meet its share of the global commitment to keeping global temperature rise below 2Co and the states and territories have a crucial role to play in meeting that goal.”
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said rooftop solar continued to grow strongly, with Queensland overtaking South Australia to claim the top spot for percentage of solar households.
“Rooftop solar is set to become as popular as home insulation. There are now fourteen postcodes in Australia where more than half of homes have solar and new housing projects are increasingly mandating solar PV on every home,” she said.
“Australia is already a world leader in rooftop solar but we have a long way to go in catching up to the rest of the world on large-scale renewables. Renewable energy not only delivers jobs and investment back to urban and regional communities, it is also crucial to tackle climate change, so state governments have everything to gain by creating policy incentives that encourage renewables.”
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