The latest National Energy Emissions Audit for the electricity sector (The Audit), released by the Australia Institute’s Climate and Energy Program, has revealed that renewables are now performing higher than all other energy sources.

The Audit shows that renewables now account for 20 per cent of total generation in the National Energy Market (NEM) – a share that that is certain to continue growing – performing best of all energy sources during a record breaking summer of heatwaves.

Key findings:

  •         AEMO’s intervention in the NEM during the unprecedented heat wave of 25 January 2019 (one of the highest ever days of total energy demand on the NEM) would certainly not have been needed if Victoria’s brown coal generators had not failed in the heat
  •         Wind and grid scale solar now supply a larger share of annual grid generation than hydro a relationship which is also most unlikely to be reversed, with a doubling in large-scale wind and solar to be expected by 2021
  •         South Australia is now firmly above 50 per cent renewable electricity. In New South Wales, notwithstanding the absence of a formal state government target for renewable generation, the renewable share of annual generation passed 10 per cent in June 2018, and has now reached 12 per cent
  •         The rise of renewables and fall in coal generation has led to a 20 per cent reduction in emissions in the NEM

Dr Hugh Saddler, renowned energy expert and author of the report, said, “If we take one lesson from the record breaking heat waves this summer, it is that solar saved the day. Both home and large-scale solar delaying and diminishing peak electricity demand.

“During the unprecedented heatwave on 25 January, large-scale solar farms were running at 93 per cent of their maximum output, which is in stark contrast to Victoria’s brown coal generators, of which two of the three stations were operating well below capacity.

“The era of coal is ending in Australia and around the world. Renewables are being backed as the most affordable, reliable and popular energy solution – despite the Federal Government’s efforts to the contrary.

“The continued growth of solar and wind energy on the NEM, which now exceeds hydro energy, will do far more to reduce emissions than the drop in the bucket that is the Government’s so-called Climate Solutions Fund.”

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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