The Clean Energy Regulator believes the 2020 Renewable Energy Target remains achievable provided the current pace of investment continues throughout 2017.
Tabled in Parliament today,
Tracking towards 2020: Encouraging renewable energy in Australia, is the 2016 calendar year report on the administration of the scheme and annual statement on progress towards the large-scale 2020 target of 33 000 gigawatt hours.
Executive General Manager, Mark Williamson who launched the report today in Melbourne, said the report shows there is significant momentum building in the large-scale industry after an unprecedented number of new projects were announced in 2016.
"The generation capacity of these new projects announced increased fivefold in 2016 compared to 2015 to more than 2000 megawatts."
"The momentum we saw in the second half of 2016 has continued into 2017. Already we have one-third of the total build required for 2017 achieved in the first three months of the year with a further 1074.5 megawatts firmly announced by end-March."
"This demonstrates that Australia is now in a strong position to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Target," Mr Williamson said.
Speaking at the Solar 2017 conference Mr Williamson highlighted that solar had played a large part in this exciting level of investment.
"Solar projects made up a higher than anticipated proportion of new projects."
Solar projects have faster construction times and the lag between final investment decisions and commissioning is shorter. This means generation begins more quickly and certificates, which drive the Renewable Energy Target, can be made available to the market sooner.
It wasn't just large-scale utility solar which excelled in 2016, small-scale solar also had a big year.
There are now more than 2.6 million Australian homes with small-scale systems installed. This is generating or displacing 10 million megawatt hours of electricity.
"The average size of solar panel systems installed in 2016 has increased 12 per cent," Mr Williamson said.
"There is still more capacity in the small-scale market. I think the industry is doing a great job to be innovative and keep pace with technology changes, but more can be done. It's just about thinking outside of traditional business models."
Renewable Energy Target is an Australian Government scheme designed to encourage the additional generation of electricity from sustainable and renewabl e sources and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector.
The Renewable Energy Target works by allowing both large-scale power stations and the owners of small-scale systems to create large-scale generation certificates and small-scale technology certificates for every megawatt hour of powe r they generate. Certificates are then purchased by electricity retailers (who supply electricity to householders and businesses) and submitted to the Clean Energy Regulator to meet the retailers' legal obligations under the Renewable Energy Target. This creates a market which provides financial incentives to both large-scale renewable energy power stations and the owners of small-scale renewable energy systems.
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