Renewable energy provided 14.76 per cent of Australia’s electricity in 2013, enough to power the equivalent of 4.9 million homes.
Hydro produced the most clean energy of any source during the year (55 per cent of the total), primarily through Hydro Tasmania’s network of power plants and the Snowy Hydro Scheme in New South Wales. Tasmania’s largest hydro plant at the Gordon Dam produced substantially higher levels of electricity during 2013 compared to previous years, helped by a wet period between July and November with repeated heavy rains and flooding.
Clean energy generation from household solar (11 per cent of the total renewable energy contribution) and wind power (27 per cent) continued to increase. More than a million rooftop solar power systems provided substantial amounts of power across the network. The commissioning of the massive Macarthur Wind Farm in western Victoria led to a 20 per cent improvement in wind power generation compared to the year before.
While 2013 saw some exciting developments in large-scale solar and early stage technologies such as geothermal and marine energy, these have not yet reached the scale to make a noticeable contribution to Australia’s overall energy generation.
Demand for power fell in all states except Tasmania, marking the fifth straight year that overall electricity use has declined in the power grid. The Australian Energy Market Operator attributed the trend to an increase in rooftop solar power systems, increased energy efficiency measures and a behavioural response by customers to higher power prices. The Australian Energy Regulator also suggested weaker demand from the manufacturing sector led to reduced power use overall.
According to data from the Australian Energy Market Operator, generation from coal-fired power fell in both Queensland and Victoria during 2013. Queensland experienced the country’s largest reduction in coal-fired generation, as some power station units were closed either due to maintenance outages or mothballed because of lower demand for electricity.