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New report shows Australia is at risk of being left behind in the race to embrace renewables

The Clean Energy Council says that the results of REN21's Renewables 2021 Global Status Report is another example highlighting that Australia is not doing enough to decarbonise its economy and that urgent action is required within the next decade to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

REN21's 2021 report outlines the case for government to prioritise renewables in all sectors through targets and that emissions reduction targets are also needed to create binding objectives and accountability, but should be made in tandem with robust policies and regulations.

The report states that at the end of 2020, 165 countries had sectoral renewables targets in place. Australia is not one of them.

Australia's primary support mechanism to support renewable energy development, the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target, was met in 2019 ahead of schedule with no extension announced. States and territories are currently doing the heavy lifting on emissions reduction.

"Renewable energy can deliver strong economic growth while reducing Australia's carbon footprint and delivering on Australia's international commitments," says Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton. "The clean energy industry has been the single biggest contributor to Australia's emissions reductions over the past decade and has proven its ability to meet and beat any target put in front of it.

"The current pipeline of renewable energy projects could secure nearly 80,000 full-time equivalent jobs. Our sector is ready to deliver career pathways that provide clean, low-cost energy that the future workforce can truly aspire to.

"Renewable energy jobs can have an enormous positive impact on regional communities, and this should be a clear priority for government.

"Australia has an opportunity to use our considerable renewable energy advantages to export Australian-made clean energy around the world and demonstrate how a modern, clean industrial sector can contribute to the global effort to curb the impacts of climate change."

At the end of 2020, Australia ranked 14th in total renewable power capacity at 50 GW. The Clean Energy Council estimates there are over 47 GW currently in the development pipeline.

The report reveals that renewable energy made up around 10 per cent of Australia's total final energy consumption, ranking 12th of G20 countries, behind Brazil, Canada, Turkey, the US, Argentina and India. This put Australia ahead of all member countries of the G20 within the Asia-Pacific region, except India. Australia also led the region in the use of renewables in mining.

"Renewables are the way for Australia to harness the opportunity for an electrified future, and there are considerable advantages for our economy if we get it right," says Thornton.

For example, Tesla recently found that Australia supplies just under half of the world's lithium ore, which is used for battery cells. Because it gets shipped offshore for processing, Australia is missing out on over $2 billion annually – a figure that's set to grow with the increasing use of battery storage.

"Australia needs to think about the future we want to create for ourselves. Instead of using taxpayer funds to prop up fossil-fuel generation, a more prudent investment would be large-scale battery storage, pumped hydro and accelerating transmission upgrades to provide cost-effective, reliable, flexible and low-emissions power," says Thornton.

Australia has exceptional potential to do well in a world of ambitious climate change mitigation – but only if we plan, prepare and invest in the emerging low and zero emissions opportunities that are before us.


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Jane Aubrey
Clean Energy Council Media Manager
[email protected]
+61 409 470 683