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Renewable power stations

Renewable power stations

How are we tracking?

Renewable power stations in 2015:

  • 41 accredited (38 were commercial and industrial scale with capacity less than 10 megawatts), and
  • 296 megawatt capacity

The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target creates a financial incentive to establish and expand renewable power stations such as wind and solar farms, and hydroelectric power stations. It also includes renewable power stations that use eligible forms of waste or by-products as energy sources.

Number and capacity

A total of 482 large-scale renewable power stations are now accredited under the Renewable Energy Target, with a combined capacity of approximately 13 652 megawatts. Together, they have the capacity to generate approximately 16.7 million megawatt hours of renewable electricity above baseline in a typical year.14 For further information on baselines see the Baselines section below.

The number of renewable power stations has increased each year since 2001. In recent years cumulative capacity has grown at a slower rate than the number of renewable power stations—highlighting a trend towards smaller renewable power stations. This trend is more pronounced from 2013 to 2015, as seen in Graph 5. A breakdown is in Appendix A.

There has been a 70 per cent rise in the number of accredited solar power stations since 2011. In 2015 solar power stations made up the majority of new accredited renewable power stations for the second year in a row and the total capacity of large-scale solar power stations almost tripled in the last 12 months.

In 2015, we accredited the two largest solar power stations in Australia—Broken Hill Solar Plant at 53 megawatt capacity and Nyngan Solar Plant at 102 megawatt capacity. These contributed to an increase of 172 megawatts of large scale solar power station capacity in 2015, with a total cumulative capacity of 232 megawatts across all years.

Energy sources

How are we tracking?

Energy sources in 2015:

  • 12 different eligible energy sources used by renewable power stations, and
  • capacity of accredited solar power stations increased significantly by 172 megawatts.

We categorise renewable power stations according to the renewable energy source used to create most of the station's large-scale generation certificates.

Eligible sources include solar energy, wind, hydro, geothermal-aquifers, wood waste, agricultural waste, bagasse (sugar cane waste), black liquor (a by-product of the paper-making process) and landfill gas. The list of all eligible renewable energy sources is in section 17 of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000.

The 482 renewable power stations fall into 12 out of 19 eligible categories. There are 107 hydro, 136 solar, 85 wind, 62 landfill gas and 28 wood waste, with the remaining 64 renewable power stations using a range of other renewable energy sources. No large-scale generation certificates created in 2015 can be attributed to native forest wood waste, which was reintroduced as an eligible category in June 2015.15 Native forest wood waste is a sub-category of wood waste.

Figure 3 shows the megawatt capacity of renewable power stations across Australia.

Graph 5: Growth in the number of accredited renewable power stations and their cumulative capacity since 2011

Graph 5: Growth in the number of accredited renewable power stations and their cumulative capacity since 2011 

Figure 3: Energy source by state

Figure 3: Energy source by state 

Baselines

Accredited power stations are eligible to create certificates from electricity generation above their 1997 renewable power baselines (the baselines). Power stations with a baseline typically use hydro, bagasse and landfill gas as their eligible renewable energy sources.16 The baseline for each power station is determined by the Clean Energy Regulator under the Regulations. The baseline for a renewable power station that was generating electricity before 1 January 1997 is determined by averaging the annual amount of electricity generated from eligible renewable energy sources by the power station over 1994, 1995 and 1996 years. Power stations which generated electricity for the first time after 1 January 1997 have a baseline of zero.

Renewable power stations can create renewable energy certificates for each megawatt hour of renewable power they produce above their baseline.

The calculation of a renewable power station's baseline is an important part of calculating how much of the electricity produced is eligible for creating renewable certificates.

By the end of 2015, renewable power stations had reported generating around 15.2 million megawatt hours of renewable energy above their baselines.

Graph 6: Baseline data comparison from 2013–2014

Graph 6: Baseline data comparison from 2013–2014 

Photo acknowledgement: Clean Energy Regulator, Albany Wind Farm WA  

Photo acknowledgement: Clean Energy Regulator, Albany Wind Farm WA

Footnotes

14 The estimation of megawatt hours of renewable electricity considers variables such as capacity factors for each renewable energy technology and other conditions that may affect capacity to generate electricity such as weather conditions.

15 Regulation 8 (1)(e) of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 provide the definition for native forest wood waste.

16 A full list of eligible renewable energy sources is on the Clean Energy Regulator website.

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