Renewable energy now accounts for one-third of Australia’s energy

Australia has set new records for renewable energy production for the fifth consecutive year, with solar, wind and hydropower accounting for about one-third of Australia’s energy mix.

This is consistent with 2021 being the record year for solar power, with more than a quarter of Australian homes decorated with rooftop solar panels.

Last year, renewable energy generated 32.3% of energy across Australia’s national electricity market. This region covers all jurisdictions except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Overall, total energy demand for solar, wind and hydropower across Australia increased by 23% from 2020 to 2021.

Angus Taylor, Minister of Industry, Energy and Emissions, said the investment in this sector has made Australia a global leader in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

“Last year, Australia invested $ 7.4 billion, or $ 284 per person, in renewable energy,” Taylor said. “This gives us an edge over countries such as Canada, Germany, Japan, France, China and the United States on a per capita basis.”

The first half of 2022 is also expected to include many new major projects to be announced or under construction in the renewable energy sector.

Taylor said the government focused on ensuring energy stability during the transition.

“As record high levels of renewable energy come online, Morrison’s energy policy focuses on three things: prices are still low and emissions continue to decline. The key to this is , A balance between renewable energy and on-demand reliable power. “

Renewable energies, along with gas, have so far pushed down energy prices in most of Australia’s jurisdictions.

However, while solar panels have become one of the cheapest forms of electricity, there is growing concern about the potential for slave labor in the solar supply chain, especially as 90 percent of Australian solar panels are manufactured in China. I am.

Energy stability with more renewable energy

The federal government is implementing some measures to maintain lighting as more solar and wind power grows rapidly.

This is due to the announcement of early closure of two major coal-fired power plants, including Victoria and Australia’s largest Yallourn power plant, and more recently the Eraring coal-fired power plant in New South Wales.

Both Australia and internationally, gas is an alternative to coal and is hailed as the key to supporting intermittent energy production, thanks to its ability to ignite quickly when needed.

To this end, the government has supported a number of gas projects, including the Port Kembla Gas Import Terminal, Tarawara B Gas Generator, and Kuri Kuri Gas Plant, all in New South Wales.

The federal government has also planned a capacity mechanism to keep certain generators in standby to ensure that the minimum baseline energy threshold is reached even if that power is no longer available. I outlined it.

The purpose of this mechanism is to incentivize and reward power plants that can generate electricity when the system needs it most, such as coal, gas, batteries and hydropower plants. Solar and wind power is cheap, but not always available. ..

Epoch Times Photo
Undated distribution photos show Australia’s resource giant Woodside’s Cossack Pioneer oil production facility at the Northwest Shelf Gas Project, which produces one-third of Australia’s oil and half of its natural gas off the northwest coast of Australia. increase. (AFP via Getty Images)

However, while gas power produces less than half the carbon dioxide of coal, the use of fossil fuels has angered environmental groups seeking a complete reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

To reduce dependence on gas, a relatively small number of battery projects have been completed or are underway in Australia and require large amounts of energy storage.

Battery on the big grid

However, experts warn against using batteries in the power grid to store the energy produced by renewable energies.

Iven Mareels, an engineering professor at the University of Melbourne and a power grid expert, explained that a large number of expensive batteries are needed to provide sufficient power backup over the long term.

“Batteries can never do what coal-fired power plants can … they can’t even close,” Marilles told The Epoch Times.

Marilles agreed to move away from coal-fired power to reduce emissions, but pointed out that batteries are not renewable and that they also have their own environmental problems.

“Recycling isn’t that easy, and keep in mind that stationary batteries have the best lifespan of only about half that of a coal-fired power plant,” he said.

Pumped-storage power generation provided a solution to this problem, Marilles said. In this method, water is pumped into a highland reservoir to store energy. This reservoir can later be released and accessed via a conventional hydro turbine.

Epoch Times Photo
In this dateless photo, the Snowy 2.0 pumped storage project in Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales, Australia. (New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)

The Australian Government’s Snowy 2.0 is Australia’s first and only large-scale pumped-storage power generation project, with 2,000 MW (megawatts) of pumped-storage power generation capable of up to 75 hours of output, similar to large coal-fired power plants. It is a system.

Compared to batteries, the project costs an estimated $ 3.8 billion to $ 4.5 billion, which is about 25 times more than a regular grid-scale battery, but 1,400 times more storage capacity.

Daniel Kumerev


Daniel Khmelev is a Perth-based Australian reporter working on energy, technology and politics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, physics and computer science. Contact him at [email protected]