South Australia hits 50% as the march to renewables continues

04.04.19 By

Topline facts:

Australia’s steady march towards renewable energy continued in 2018, with all states and territories generating more renewable energy than the previous year and South Australia officially cracking 50% renewable energy.

In March, the Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy released its initial data for Australia’s electricity generation in 2018. This data shows that Australia generated 18.9% of its electricity from renewable energy technologies in 2018, mainly from wind, solar and hydro. This was up from 15.2% in 2017.

All of Australia’s states and territories saw increases in renewable energy generation but the level of increase varied significantly between states. South Australia led the pack with a 7.4% increase in the proportion of electricity generated by renewable energy, totalling 51.2%. Tasmania also significantly increased its hydro generation with renewable energy providing 94.6% of the state’s electricity.

Western Australia and Northern Territory are lagging with just a 0.7% increase. Victoria (an increase of 4%), New South Wales (3.9%) and Queensland (2%) fell in between.

Table 1. Renewable energy generation has increased in all states and the Northern Territory (including wind, solar, hydro and biomass).

table showing energy statistics

Just looking at wind and solar generation (and excluding hydro and biomass), the picture looks a little bit different. Nationwide wind and solar generation supplied 10.8% of Australia’s electricity in 2018, up from 8.6% in 2017.

Wind and solar generation increasing

South Australia is still the overwhelming leader in wind and solar generation at 50.5%. Victoria is clear in second place with 13.5% of its electricity generation from wind and solar. Victoria and South Australia also had the largest increases, increasing by 7.3% and 3.1% respectively.

New South Wales reached 8.9% wind and solar power and Western Australia reached 7.3%. Despite major investment in solar in Queensland, the state is on 5.6% (up from 3.8%) while the Northern Territory is on 3.8% (up from just 3.1%).

Tasmania was the only state where the proportion of wind and solar generation fell in 2018. This was due to a massive increase in hydro generation – Tasmania’s wind and solar generation did increase but by nowhere near as much as hydro.

Table 2. The proportion of wind and solar generation increased in all states, except Tasmania.

Nonetheless, Australia’s electricity is still overwhelmingly sourced from coal. Coal power stations supplied 59.9% of Australia’s electricity in 2018. This is down from 61.4% the previous year. Combined with gas and oil products, fossil fuels supplied 81.1% of Australia’s electricity in 2018.Coal and gas still dominate

Table 3. Fossil fuels still dominate Australia’s electricity mix.

You can read the Federal Government’s latest electricity statistics here.

The renewable energy boom is in full flight but Australia still has a long way to go to phase out fossil fuels. Strong policies like those in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are needed if Australia is to do its fair share to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prevent dangerous climate change.

For more information on how Australia’s state and territories compare when it comes to renewable energy, check out the Climate Council’s report ‘Powering Progress: States Renewable Energy Race’.