Australia the world leader in renewables transition, says university study


The country is adopting renewable energy faster per capita than any other country in the world, says a new report by the Australian National University.

With several big wind and solar farms opening over the past year and rapidly growing installation of rooftop solar panels, the pipeline of new wind and solar systems is averaging about 6.3GWh per year, as per the study.

Based on new renewables capacity installed since June 2018, emissions are expected to drop sharply from the power sector, offsetting foreseeable increases from other sectors such as agriculture and transport.

According to the study, one GWh of renewables capacity offsets approximately 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from coal-fired emissions, adding the implication that the country’s renewables capacity would cut emissions by approximately twelve or thirteen millions tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Assuming emissions from other sectors grow by 2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, the net reduction would amount to 10 to 11 million tonnes annually, putting Australia on track to meet its Paris Agreement target ahead of 2030.

 “By this time next year it’ll be quite obvious to everybody that something really surprising has happened in the greenhouse accounts,” said the study’s lead researcher, Andrew Blakers.

Australian renewables equate to 250 watts per person a year, compared with about 50 watts per person for the European Union, Japan, China and the United States, per the study.

“Australia is far and away the renewable energy superstar in terms of annual per capita deployment,” Blakers said.

The study, based on data from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator, was not commissioned he said.

To meet Australia’s Paris Climate accord commitment to cut carbon emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2030, emissions would need to fall between 430 million and 442 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, and yet at the end of 2017, emissions had risen to 553.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, according to Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development said last month Australia needed to cut emissions more sharply to meet its Paris target as the country remained heavily dependent on coal-fired generation.