Game On: The Australian Renewable Energy Race Heats Up

Our new report card on the renewable energy progress of Australia’s states and territories finds South Australia and the ACT are acing the class, while NSW is lagging behind.

The report Game On: Australia’s Renewable Energy Race Heats Up grades Australia's states on their renewable energy policy and performance across rooftop solar penetration, large-scale capacity per capita and percentage of renewable electricity.

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KEY FINDINGS

Australian states and territories are increasingly supporting renewable energy after two years of federal uncertainty.

  • Globally and in Australia, governments at state, regional and local levels are playing an important role in growing renewable power.
  • The number of states and territories with renewable energy targets has increased from two to four in the last year. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has the highest target (100% by 2020), followed by South Australia (50% by 2025), Queensland (50% by 2030 and one million solar rooftops) and Victoria (at least 20% by 2020). New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory do not have renewable energy targets.
  • All states, except Victoria and New South Wales, have increased the proportion of renewable energy in their electricity supply in the last two years.
  • In the past eighteen months, some states and territories have stepped up their support for renewable energy to shore-up investment and jobs in the sector and to combat renewable energy policy uncertainty and a loss of investor confidence at the national level.
  • Renewable energy tenders from state and territory governments (such as the ACT’s reverse auction process and Queensland’s Ergon Energy tender for large-scale solar) have played a role in boosting Australia’s appeal as a place to invest in renewable energy.

South Australia and the ACT are the best-performing state and territory on renewable energy.

  • ACT has a target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020, while South Australia has a target to achieve 50% renewable electricity by 2025 and has set a new target for zero net emissions by 2050.
  • South Australia has seen the greatest increase in its share of renewable energy of Australian states - going from 26% renewable electricity in 2013 to 40% in 2014.
  • ACT will meet its 100% target through large-scale solar and wind projects supported through its reverse auction process.

New South Wales is the worst performing state as it has the lowest (and falling) percentage of renewable electricity.

  • New South Wales received the worst renewable report grade due to the lowest (and falling) percentage of renewable electricity, low large-scale renewable capacity per person, no renewable energy target and low levels of rooftop solar.
  • In New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, fossil fuels such as coal and gas still account for 90% or more of the power supply.
  • Victoria and Queensland are signalling intent to increase their share of renewable energy through targets and policy.

Queensland has overtaken South Australia to claim the top spot for percentage of solar households.

  • Both Queensland (29.6%) and South Australia (28.8%) are approaching almost a third of homes with solar and are far ahead of the other states. Western Australia is in third place on 22.5%.
  • There are now fourteen postcodes in Australia in which more than half of households have rooftop solar. Rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels could soon become as common as home insulation.

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