Renewable energy provided almost 10 per cent of Australia’s electricity in the last 12 months and more than half a million household solar power systems are now installed on Australian rooftops – around 35 times the amount just three years ago at the end of 2008.
Over one million Australians now live in a solar household. Solar power has come of age and is now a real part of Australia’s energy sector.
Clean Energy Council Director Kane Thornton said Australia had set a target of sourcing 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy such as solar, wind, bioenergy, wave and geothermal power by 2020.
“The good news is we are now well on the way to achieving the 20% renewable energy target,” he said.
“The last year has been a drought breaker in more ways than one. As well as giving Australia’s farmers a boost, extra rainfall in key hydro power catchments made a huge difference, providing just over two-thirds of our renewable energy over the last year.
“We are already starting to see a boost from the energy produced by wind farms, with wind energy supplying enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of around 900,000 homes. Wind power is the lowest-cost form of renewable energy that can be rolled out on a large scale and we expect it to play a major part in meeting Australia’s 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.
“Overall, renewable energy produced enough power for more than four million homes and came at a very low cost to consumers.”
While household renewable energy technologies such as solar power had an extremely successful year, industrial scale clean energy such as wind farms increased more modestly. This was mostly due to uncertainty around the introduction of a price on carbon.
Mr Thornton said it had been a challenging couple of years for large scale clean energy developers, but the industry was optimistic about the year ahead.
“Now that we have a carbon price in place, we expect to see many clean energy companies investing in major projects in 2012 and beyond. This was the reform we needed to help unlock some major deals during the first half of next year.
“Clean energy is now a major industry employing thousands of people and this represents real opportunity for rural and regional areas in particular,” he said.
Key findings from the report include: