Saturday, 27 July 2013

Renewable energy use hits record heights in Australia
8 Jun 2013

The latest data from Australia's peak clean energy body indicates that the country's use of renewable energy hit record heights last year. According to figures from the Clean Energy Council's 2012 Clean EnergyAustralia Report, a record-breaking 13.14% of Australia's electricity was derived from renewable energy in 2012.

Both solar power and wind power have reached major milestones since the start of 2012, Australia's 62 wind farms produced enough electricity to supply power to one million households for the first time last year, while the country installed its millionth solar power system earlier this year.

While solar power and wind power saw an increase in their share of renewable energy generated, rising to 26% and 8% respectively, hydroelectric power nonetheless remains the dominant form of clean power, accounting for 57% in 2012.

CEC chief executive David Green said the report shows that renewable energy is fast emerging as an economically viable power source, especially in light of the rising expense of its conventional, mainstream peers. "The cost of fossil fuels such as gas has been going up, while clean energy has been getting cheaper-fast", he said

Green also highlighted rapid growth in the deployment of renewable energy in Australia, and the sector's salutary contribution to the national economy. "The clean energy industry contributed $4.2 billion in investment and approximately 24,300 to the Australian economy in 2012", he said. Despite this impressive level of spending, however, the report found that Australian investment in renewables actually fell significantly last year, dropping $1.3 billion dollars from $5.5 billion in 2011.

The decline in investment has been largely attributed to the solar sector due to the scuppering of government incentives for the installation of rooftop panels and declines in systems cost. Further declines in investment are also expected this year as a result of political uncertainty in the lead up to the federal election this year, and the potential impact on the renewable energy sector of a Coalition victory.