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Australia’s renewable energy acceleration

2019 was another record-breaking year for renewable capacity delivered9. The strong performance in 2018 was surpassed in 2019 with total renewable capacity delivered under the Renewable Energy Target (both small-scale and large-scale) increasing by 24 per cent—from 5.1 gigawatts in 2018 to 6.3 gigawatts in 2019.

Investment in solar PV and solar water heater systems under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme increased across all states in 2019. Solar PV continues to be attractive for households and businesses looking to reduce their electricity bills; with net system costs to consumers continuing to fall despite the decreasing subsidy through the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme10.

New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria all saw strong growth in solar PV installations in 2019. By the end of 2019 the cumulative capacity installed under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme exceeded 10 gigawatts.

Table 1: Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme installations and capacity delivered by state and territory
State/
territory
2019
installations
2019 capacity
(megawatts)
Cumulative
installations

Cumulative
capacity
(megawatts)
ACT4,5083038,883122
NSW83,145585823,4622,433
NT4,2673035,536103
QLD80,418562965,5252,946
SA28,983222335,2631,230
TAS4,2852052,222157
VIC88,653456786,0812,009
WA44,803245507,4031,312
Total 339,062 2,15011 3,544,375 10,312

The state and territory profile of new utility-scale power station capacity delivered is more variable due to long construction times and complexity in connecting to the grid. New South Wales dominated utility-scale capacity delivered with the greatest increase from 2018 while growth in Queensland declined following delivery of substantial commitments over the period 2016-2018. Key projects delivered in Tasmania and Western Australia in 2019 also resulted in a significant increase in renewable capacity delivered compared to 2018, albeit from a relatively small baseline. Cumulatively New South Wales has the largest total renewables fleet by capacity, owing to a strong portfolio of hydro power stations operating before the commencement of the Renewable Energy Target combined with new investment in solar and wind projects in recent years.

Table 2: Large-scale Renewable Energy Target capacity delivered by state and territory
State2019
power stations
2019 capacity
(megawatts)
Cumulative power station numberCumulative capacity
(megawatts)
ACT212356
NSW801,4103358,190
NT735730
QLD801,2552764,252
SA704031932,696
TAS4151712,801
VIC1106533593,865
WA38198150997
Total 391 4,074 1,464 22,887

The additional capacity delivered in 2019 drove a record amount of renewable energy generation across Australia. Total generation and displacement under the Renewable Energy Target increased by 21 per cent from 36,800 gigawatt hours in 2018 to 44,400 gigawatt hours in 2019. Of this, 28,300 gigawatt hours was renewable energy generation under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and 16,100 gigawatt hours was from generation and displacement under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.

Figure 1: Total Renewable Energy Target generation and displacement by fuel source

chart demonstrating Total Renewable Energy Target generation and displacement by fuel source

By the end of 2019, total generation from renewables accounted for approximately 25 per cent of total electricity generation in the National Electricity Market. This is a significant increase from the end of 2018 when renewables accounted for 20 per cent of generation.

Salt Creek Wind Farm
Salt Creek Wind Farm located on a Merino stud farm near Woorndoo, Victoria. Photo: Mondo.

Footnotes

    1. Delivered refers to power stations or installations that are accredited under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target or installed under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Schemes. Delivered utility-scale projects may still be ramping up to full commissioned capacity.
    2. The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme ends in 2030 with the subsidy provided through the scheme for solar PV decreasing each year since 2017. The deeming or forward crediting of certificates declines by one year every year until 2030.
    3. This number will continue to increase marginally to the end of 2020 as residual claims for 2019 are submitted and processed.


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