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2018 Renewable energy report card: 'Guinness Book of Records' for sector

More than a fifth of Australia’s power (21 per cent) came from renewable energy last year and the generating capacity of large-scale renewable energy projects underway increased by 260 per cent compared to 2017, according to a record-breaking edition of the Clean Energy Australia report.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said this year’s Clean Energy Australia report reads like the Guinness Book of Records for the renewable energy and storage industries.

“The report reflects on an unprecedented period where more rooftop and commercial solar was installed than ever before, and Australia celebrated a milestone of 2 million solar homes nationally,” Mr Thornton said.

“The real cherry on top is that Australia as a nation produced enough renewable energy in 2018 to power every household in the country.”

The amount of renewable energy capacity financially committed in 2018 increased by 260 per cent on 2017, with 14.8 GW committed in 2018 compared to the 5.6 GW in 2017. Large-scale solar was the biggest mover in 2018, with the total generating capacity of completed projects increasing close to five times (480 per cent), from 382 MW at the end of 2017 to 1824 MW in 2018.

“Renewable energy entrenched its position as the lowest-cost type of new energy that can be efficiently built, and costs for new solar and wind power continued to fall – meaning investors saw more bang for every buck. While investment in large-scale renewables doubled from $10 billion in 2017 to $20 billion in 2018, the generating capacity grew by more than 2.5 times over the same period,” Mr Thornton said.

“This extraordinary level of investment created over 13,000 new direct jobs in rural and regional Australia. This takes total employment in the industry to over 20,000 direct jobs, with many more indirect jobs created throughout rural and regional Australia.

“With the amount of investment underway, it is now clear that the large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET) will be met by 2020, with 67 large-scale renewable projects under construction at the end of last year, compared to the 34 in 2017 and just 11 in 2016.

“But with no energy policy beyond 2020, these extraordinary achievements could grind to a halt unless the next Federal Government commits to a sensible and enduring energy policy that can provide long-term investment confidence.

“The states have acted to fill the gap with their own policies, but the lack of a streamlined national policy puts much of the remarkable progress that has been made at risk,” he said.

Highlights from the report include:

  • The amount of renewable energy capacity committed in 2018 increased 260 per cent on 2017, with 14.8 GW underway in 2018 compared to 5.6 GW in 2017. This has created another 7000 new jobs since 2017.
  • Investment in large-scale renewable energy doubled to $20 billion, creating over 13,000 new jobs and new generating capacity of almost 15 GW.
  • The clean industry is now directly employing over 20,000 people, many of these throughout rural and regional Australia
  • Electricity generated by renewables hit 21 per cent in 2018 – its highest ever level.
  • Rooftop solar installations passed 2 million systems nationally, with six solar panels installed per minute across the country in 2018.
  • The installed capacity of rooftop solar now exceeds 8.1 GW throughout Australia, approximately four times the capacity of the Liddell Power Station. The average rooftop solar system size continues to increase, now reaching 7.13 kW.
  • A record breaking 67 large-scale renewable energy projects were under construction at the end of 2018.
  • Large scale solar had an extraordinary year, with the amount of installed capacity increasing almost five times (480 per cent), from 382 MW in 2017 to 1824 MW in 2018.
  • There was a 45 per cent increase in commercial solar installations throughout 2018.
  • The top three postcodes with the highest uptake of rooftop solar are: Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and Toowoomba, cementing Queensland’s place as the sunshine state.

The full 2019 Clean Energy Australia Report can be downloaded from the Clean Energy Council website.

Please contact Mark Bretherton, the Clean Energy Council’s Director – Media on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.