Discussion paper

Class ACT: how the Australian Capital Territory became a global energy leader

Climate change mitigation Energy Renewable energy Power resources Australian Capital Territory

In 2016, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) upgraded its target to 100% renewable electricity by 2020. The agreement with the final renewable generator necessary to meet 100% will come into force in October 2019, ensuring the target is met on time by 1 January 2020.

The ACT will be the first state or territory in Australia to achieve a transition from a fossil fuel-based electricity supply to 100% renewable electricity. Internationally, only seven jurisdictions with populations over 100,000 have made similar transitions.

Comparing transitions across sub-national jurisdictions is difficult. Data is limited and each faces its own unique circumstances. Key considerations in our analysis are:

  • 100% net consumption: Target applies to the net electricity consumed by the jurisdiction. The jurisdiction is not disqualified if the grid it is part of carries energy generated by fossil fuels, as long as the jurisdiction produces or commissions the production of more than its full annual consumption by renewable sources.
  • Transition from fossil fuels: Jurisdictions with historic reliance on hydro and geothermal energy are omitted to concentrate on recent transition in response to climate challenges and renewable energy technology. Some hydro-heavy jurisdictions are included where they have also made significant transitions in non-electricity sectors.

Hot in pursuit of these leaders and the ACT are four additional significant jurisdictions expected to achieve the same transition in 2020. There are now over 107 countries, provinces and cities with 100% renewable electricity targets, with an average target year of 2033.

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