Some of the strongest hydro generation in recent years and the opening of the largest wind farm in the country lifted renewable energy’s share of Australia’s power generation to over 14 per cent in the 2013 calendar year, according to analysis from a report released today by the Clean Energy Council.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green said both energy efficiency and renewable energy had an important role to play in building a stronger, cleaner economy, and 2013 represented another exciting year for the uptake of these technologies.

“Last year saw another year of steady growth for solar power and wind energy in Australia, despite sustained uncertainty about the key policy settings for the sector. Australia’s renewable energy potential is massive, but we have so much more to do to fully unlock it,” Mr Green said.

The industry is continuing the steady build toward 2020 as renewable energy starts to reach scale and drive the transformation of Australia’s energy sector. Renewable energy now powers the equivalent of almost 5 million Australian homes, and 1.25 million homes and businesses now have a solar power system.

“The Clean Energy Australia 2013 Report shows that the industry contributed more than $5 billion of investment to the economy each year for the past three years and 21,000 jobs. Much of this economic activity was in regional areas where it is badly needed,” Mr Green said.

“This report shows that this is an industry poised to unlock tens of billions of dollars in investment, if the national Renewable Energy Target remains in place following the current review process.”

Mr Green said analysis by ROAM Consulting for the Clean Energy Council showed that power prices will actually be lower by the end of the decade if the Renewable Energy Target was left in place than under a scenario in which it was removed.

“This is because without the Renewable Energy Target we would need to get more of our electricity from gas, which the Australian Industry Group and the New South Wales Government predict may as much as triple in cost this decade,” he said.

“The Clean Energy Australia Report 2013 shows what the Renewable Energy Target has already achieved. All it needs now is to be left alone to do the rest of its job. With the right policy settings for a stable investment environment, clean energy will help Australia’s economy go from strength to strength.”

Key results from the Clean Energy Australia 2013 report include:

  • $5.2 billion was invested in clean energy during the calendar year, the third successive year that domestic investment has been more than $5 billion.
  • Almost 1.25 million solar power systems were installed at the end of 2013, meaning more than 3.1 million Australians now live or work beneath a set of solar panels.
  • Renewable energy produced 14.76 per cent of Australia’s electricity in 2013 – enough to power the equivalent of almost 5 million homes. While hydro had an extremely strong year, wind and solar power use also grew to record levels.
  • Approximately 21,000 people were employed by the renewable energy industry at the end of 2013. This is several thousand fewer than the year before, mainly due to a contraction in the market for household solar power.
  • The largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, the Macarthur Wind Farm, opened in 2013. In total, Australia’s 1639 wind turbines across the country provided enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1.3 million homes.

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.