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Australia’s carbon markets continue steady growth

24 June 2021

The Clean Energy Regulator released the Quarterly Carbon Market Report – March Quarter 2021 today. The Report highlights the steady growth over the first quarter of 2021, with all markets on track to meet or beat expectations from the December 2020 report.

Importantly, the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target of 33,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) was met, on a rolling 12-month basis, at the end of January 2021. The 2020 Annual Statement – Large-scale renewable energy target met tabled in Parliament on 16 June 2021 outlines the pathway to achieve this milestone in Australia’s renewable energy journey.

Emissions reductions from the schemes administered by the Clean Energy Regulator are conservatively expected to reach 57 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) in 2021, up 7% from 2020.

David Parker, Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator, said that the Clean Energy Regulator is examining an alternative method looking at the emissions intensity of thermal generation displaced by the additional renewable energy generation. This alternative method indicates total emissions reductions from these schemes could be as high as 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2021.

“Rooftop solar has continued to show strong growth in Quarter 1 2021 with 792 MW installed – a 28% increase compared to the first quarter of 2020. We expect the combined capacity of rooftop solar across small and mid-scale installations could exceed 4 GW capacity in 2021.”

The results of the 12th Emissions Reduction Fund auction and increased trading of Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) in the first quarter of the year bode well for strong results in 2021.

“The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Auction 12, held in April, contracted 6.8 million tonnes of forward carbon abatement, primarily for optional delivery, for a total commitment of $108 million,” Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker noted that the outlook for utility scale generation remains positive. “While the number of projects reaching financial close this quarter was modest, the pipeline of large-scale projects with a power purchase agreement, which are a leading indicator, reached a record 3.7GW over Quarter 1 2021. This suggests that investment in 2021 and beyond should remain strong.”

The report also highlights Australia’s place as a world leader in renewables investment. The International Renewable Energy Agency's Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 report confirms Australia installed the highest wind and solar capacity per capita of any developed nation in total over the past 3 years (578 watts per person).

Private demand for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) and large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) continued to accelerate with the highest Quarter 1 surrenders on record, up 39% compared with Quarter 1 2020.

To support rapidly increasing voluntary demand for carbon units the Clean Energy Regulator has called for expressions of interest for an Australian Carbon Exchange.

The Clean Energy Regulator is also co-designing with industry the pilot of the voluntary Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency report (CERT) for National Greenhouse and Energy Reporters to help track progress against their voluntary emission reduction commitments..

More information can be found in the Clean Energy Regulator’s Quarterly Carbon Market Report – March Quarter 2021.

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