Aussie renewable installs reach all-time high

Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has released their annual renewables report, confirming the nation’s highest ever installations and the world’s greatest per-capita capacity increase. We look through the highlights, what they’re neglecting to mention, and what this means for Aussie EVs today on the JET Charge blog.

Broken Hill Solar

Leading the pack

The national Clean Energy Regulator released their annual Renewable Energy Target report last week with a resounding positive tone. It comes only a few months after energy analysis firm RepuTex came out with their own report predicting 52% renewable generation by 2030.

The CER estimates Australia will generate 40,000 gigawatt hours thanks to target-backed large-scale renewables projects in 2020. Achieving this will be a win for the policy and CER, well above the 33,000 GWh demanded by the Renewable Energy Target amended in 2015.

The report also makes clear just how significant the rate of new installations is, asserting that Australia is now deploying more renewables per capita than any other country on Earth — and not by a narrow margin.

Global per capita renewables deployment rate 2018 — © Commonwealth of Australia (Clean Energy Regulator) 2019

Global per capita renewables deployment rate 2018 — © Commonwealth of Australia (Clean Energy Regulator) 2019

2017 was already a record year for renewables projects, with 1113 MW credited in that year. In 2018 we smashed that record, taking out the global top spot with 3455 MW in new projects.

All this new capacity has played a large role in lowering renewable energy certificate prices. Large-scale certificates, the government’s way of incentivising renewable investment, have halved in value since last year. 

But it’s not just the atmosphere that stands to benefit from renewable investment. CER report over 10,000 new jobs have been directly created in Queensland, Victoria, and NSW alone.

Other side of the coin

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Aussie renewables — at least not yet. The Federal Energy Department reported total renewable generation at just under 19% of our total in 2018. This was a 25% increase from 2017 (15.2% renewable-sourced), but much less than global leaders.

The target-beating figures are also a little less impressive when we consider the original 41,000 GWh Renewable Energy Target laid out in 2010. The current target — 33,000 GWh — was amended in 2015 by the Coalition government. 

EV implications

But does this mean much for EV owners? Not really, except maybe for those collecting renewable energy certificates through rooftop solar. While large-scale certificate prices have been hit hard by increased generation, their small-scale counterparts have remained relatively steady in the face of ongoing investment. 

Most EV owners won’t notice much change in their power bill over time so long as current government policies hold. Although an increasing percentage of renewables will go a long way to silencing the “but Aussie power = coal” crowd that routinely decry EVs in the face of strong evidence to the contrary.

It might also play a role in remedying the grid concerns that occasionally surface in the anti-EV narrative. We’ve written before about the strategies that could combat EVs’ load cost, and greater renewable generation is one of the most straightforward going into the 2020s.

Solar powered homes have already shown their efficacy in reducing EVs’ grid load, and combined with the storage capacity promised by vehicle-to-grid technologies we could easily be seeing a boom for domestic power generation in the near future.

“Solar PV capacity in the Renewable Energy Target, 2011 to 2018”, and “Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme capacity, 2011 to 2018” — © Commonwealth of Australia (Clean Energy Regulator) 2019

“Solar PV capacity in the Renewable Energy Target, 2011 to 2018”, and “Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme capacity, 2011 to 2018” — © Commonwealth of Australia (Clean Energy Regulator) 2019

Businesses and homeowners are incentivised by the Renewable Energy Target scheme to create and sell certificates, and with panels paying for themselves in an average of 4 years the panels are becoming an increasingly valuable investment nationwide. Through state incentives, strategic EV charge-timing and high power demands, their ROI can be even shorter.

Altogether, while some of the figures are deceptively framed, the message of the CER’s report is a positive one. Australia is well on our way to building a renewable-sourced power network, and with ongoing public support we can ensure there are no more reductions in national targets going forward.

Have you embraced home solar and renewable-sourced EV charging? Let us know on our Facebook page or by comment, and be sure to check back regularly to the JET Charge blog for more EV news and updates.