There’s a renewable revolution going on down under – and it’s taking place on the country’s rooftops.
A record amount of new solar capacity has been fitted to Australia’s households and businesses in the first three months of this year, an increase of 46% on the same period last year, according to the consultancy Green Energy Markets.
And installations in Victoria have surged 90% after the state introduced an incentive scheme.
It’s calculated that customers will save $600 million on their power bills over the next decade, thanks to the installations. And the scheme is bringing benefits in other areas, generating new jobs in the renewable energy sector.
Lost in transmission
Australia’s renewables industry is currently in a dispute with the energy market regulator about how much they are paid.
Producers whose electricity travels furthest are paid less. This is down to a formula which calculates how much electricity is lost in transmission between solar and wind farms, which are often remote, and consumers.
Some operators now claim that this formula is threatening the viability of certain renewable energy sites.
Despite the dispute, there are many more large-scale solar and wind projects under construction.
Renewable energy sources contributed around 20% of Australia’s electricity needs in March - enough to power 9.5 million homes and saving 2.7 million tonnes of CO2.
Power to the people
The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Energy Transition Index, which rates countries by their energy performance and how ready they are to embrace sustainable energy, ranked Australia 43rd out of 115 countries surveyed. Australia, Canada and South Korea were the only large economies with scores outside the top 25% of nations.
Researchers said the ranking was primarily due to the nations’ low scores on environmental sustainability. Although ranking high on economic growth and energy security, the three had among the highest energy consumption per person and carbon emissions in the world.
Earlier this year, the World Resource Institute said that domestic solar generation is transforming the lives of people in developing countries.
It found that, although a billion people globally still don’t have access to electricity, small-scale solar is bringing power to growing numbers of rural people.
Research shows that the entire rural population of Bhutan now has access to electricity. In Nepal the figure is 91%, and in Afghanistan, solar energy in remote villages means 84% of people in rural areas now have electricity.
The renewable revolution is growing and it’s here to stay.