Renewable energy close to meeting domestic power needs

Renewable energy close to meeting domestic power needs”

The relatively slow take-up of large-scale renewable energy projects in WA could ultimately help the State by allowing it to avoid the mistakes of other jurisdictions, according to Australia's energy market chief.

That's enough renewable energy to power 70% of all Aussie households - or 7.1 million homes - and the benefits are being felt in particular by households who have installed solar panels.

The Renewable Energy Index Report, released today by Green Energy Markets, has revealed that renewable energy is a growing force in Australia, generating 17.2% of all electricity in the country between June 2016 and June this year.

"Renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, are now beginning to emerge as a significant source of power", Director of analysis and advisory Tristan Edis said.

The index found that hydro-electricity remained the biggest source of renewable energy in the financial year ending in June 2017, accounting for 40 percent, followed by wind (31 percent) and rooftop solar (18 percent).

"The renewable energy sector has staged a remarkable recovery, after investment completely dried-up under former prime minister Tony Abbott", Edis said.

He has previously said the clean energy target, if implemented, would not come into effect until 2020 so there was "no rush" for the government to make a decision.

"However the current boom in renewable energy investment and jobs could soon turn to bust unless the Federal Government moves forward on Finkel's recommendation for a Clean Energy Target".

The index revealed there were 46 major renewable energy projects under construction at the end of 2016-17, which are estimated to employ 8868 full-time people for one year. This figure had surged to 10,000 by July.

They should deliver around $1.5 billion in power bill savings over the next 10 years to the households and businesses installing them. Most jobs were in NSW (3,018), thanks largely to wind farms, while Queensland (2,625) was next, with 70% of its jobs coming from solar farms.

More than 150,000 Australian houses had solar systems installed in financial year 2017, Edis said.

These installations supported 3,769 full-time jobs across solar installation, design and sales.

Energy market analysts, Green Energy Markets, will now be publishing a monthly index so Australians can track the renewable sector including jobs created, increased power supply, pollution reduction and savings on power bills from rooftop solar.

Generation from rooftop solar, which was "back in 2008 little more than a rounding error", had "grown spectacularly", Edis said.

Audrey Zibelman, who once ran New York State's power grid, said the migration away from fossil fuel-fired electricity was inevitable but there was still uncertainty surrounding the most efficient way of integrating renewable technologies.

However, she said that up until now these markets were often undeveloped and under-appreciated.

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