Leaders and laggards in Australia’s renewables race

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This year’s renewable energy scorecard released by the Climate Council has shown changes at the top. South Australia (SA), the nation’s traditional renewable energy leader, has lost its momentum and is now sharing the title with Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

The scorecard titled Powering Progress: States Renewable Energy Race shows a ranking of states and territories based on their proportion of renewable energy, wind and solar capacity per capita, proportion of households with solar, and renewable energy targets and policies.

The good

Although its new Liberal government has dropped the state’s renewable energy target of 50% by 2025, SA continues to have the largest amount of installed wind and solar capacity (1,831MW), closely followed by New South Wales (1,759MW) and Victoria (1,634MW), shows the scorecard.

In terms of rooftop solar, Queensland and SA have the highest proportion of households with installed solar panels, at 32.9% and 32.3% respectively, followed by Western Australia (WA) with 26.7%.

The bad

The 2018 scorecard shows WA at the bottom of the list. Despite the state’s high rooftop solar penetration, WA has a low share of renewable energy, and is the only state with no renewable energy target or net zero emissions target.

The group of laggards also includes the Northern Territory, which has a low share of renewable electricity and solar households, but is set to implement its plan to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030, and New South Wales, which does not have a renewable energy target and has no plan to replace its ageing and unreliable coal power stations.

Under construction

Almost 10,000 jobs are being created in the renewable energy industry across Australia with 69 wind and solar plants under construction, the Climate Council’s scorecard shows.

The vast majority of these projects is developed in Queensland, which has more renewable energy projects under construction than any other state, Victoria and NSW.

While Queensland and Victoria have ambitious renewable energy targets and policies to increase the amount of renewable energy, SA has at least eight new projects under construction and is on track for 73% renewable electricity in just two years.