Record renewable contribution

RENEWABLE energy supplied a record 13.14% of Australia’s electricity in 2012, or 29,678 GWh, according to new Clean Energy Council figures.

Max Pichon

In an upbeat report that largely ignored the carbon policy uncertainty that has stalled investment going forward, CEC chief executive David Green said the '2012 Clean Energy Australia Report' showed energy efficiency and renewable energy such as wind, solar and bioenergy were starting to make a major difference to the way electricity is produced and consumed.

"The cost of fossil fuels such as gas has been going up, while clean energy has been getting cheaper – fast," he said.

"Recently the level of power generation from coal has been declining, while Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target has been driving the increased use of technologies such as wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy. Solid rainfall in key hydro catchments in the first half of 2012 was also a factor.

"Earlier this year the millionth solar power system was installed, while last year was a record one for Australia’s wind power businesses, with the country’s 62 wind farms powering the equivalent of more than 1 million homes for the first time. These milestones clearly show the progress towards cleaner sources of power."

The report is the first to look at renewable energy generation and energy efficiency across both the National Electricity Market and the Western Australian electricity grid over the past calendar year. It includes industry statistics on generation, investment, jobs, power prices and individual clean energy technologies.

The clean energy industry contributed $4.2 billion in investment and about 24,300 jobs to the Australian economy in 2012.

Clean Energy Council chair and AGL chief executive Michael Fraser said the clean energy industry showed significant progress towards providing at least 20% of Australia’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

"The review of the Renewable Energy Target last year reinforced the bipartisan commitment to the policy by all major parties, and in its current form it is estimated it will generate another $18.7 billion in investment," Fraser said.

Hydro continues to contribute the largest share of the country’s renewable energy (58%), but wind power (26%) and solar power (8%) are making inroads.

The report also cites Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that about 90% of people took some kind of action to reduce their power bills in 2012. That is hardly surprising given the increase in electricity prices over the past five years.

“Businesses and households are increasingly turning to energy smart appliances, and more than 800,000 solar hot water systems have now been installed as well," Green said.

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