By Hugh Finlay
The first Australian Renewable Energy Index shows that wind and solar energy can produce up to 90% of the energy needed for domestic use in Australia. The biggest source of renewable energy in Australia is hydro-electric, which accounts for 40%. In second place is wind power, which covers over 30%. In third place is rooftop solar panels on buildings, which provides 18%, and in fourth place, is solar farms which supplies just 2%. Solar farms have the potential to produce much more power than this, in a land where there is a lot of sunshine, and there are a number of big solar farms in development, which promises to bring even more renewable energy to the country.
Surprisingly, Australia still relies heavily on coal and gas-fired methods, to satisfy its energy needs. So, at the moment Australia gets less than 20% of its energy from renewable sources. It is better than the situation in 2007, when less than 10% of Australia’s energy came from renewables. The present level of renewable energy (20%), is preventing carbon emissions equivalent to the pollution of 50% of all cars in the Australia.
Tristan Edis, the analyst for Green Energy Markets, described solar and wind energy as a “significant source of power” for Australia. Edis said “The renewable energy sector has staged a remarkable recovery, after investment dried up under former prime minister, Tony Abbot.” He said investors in renewable energy had “recovered their confidence under (new prime minister) Malcolm Turnbull.” Renewable energy will easily reach the 20% target set by the government, as part of the Paris climate accord. And the renewable industry is providing 10,000 jobs in Australia.
Power production from rooftop solar panels has risen from almost zero, 10 years ago, to almost 20%, showing that individuals are taking the initiative in creating their own renewable energy. Rooftops solar is set to save its users $1.5 billion over the next decade.
As Miraim Lyons, of GetUp energy campaigns, put it “everyday Australians are voting with their rooftops” that “heralds the end of the era of big polluting energy companies dominating the market and manipulating prices to fill their own pockets. Who do we have to thank for the renewables boom? Certainly not the federal government. Instead we can thank the thousands of everyday Australians who stood up and defended the national (RET) from Tony Abbott’s attacks, who saved (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency) from federal government budget cuts, and who pushed their state governments into showing some leadership on clean energy.”