Over the last five years, Australia has seen significant growth in the renewable energy sector. Australia’s electricity system has become more affordable, dependable, and environmentally friendly. In 2021, renewable energy accounted for 32.5% of total electricity generation in Australia. Marking the first time, more than a quarter of the country’s power came from renewable sources. The number only grew in 2022.
But one might wonder about the main source of renewable energy in Australia. On the journey towards clean energy, the Australian government played a vital role. Their target to reduce 43% of emissions by 2030 and entirely eradicate it by 2050. This energy target has been the flag bearer of renewable energy usage.
As electricity prices increased by 18.3% last year, the federal government is focusing entirely on renewable energy usage and storage. Technologically advanced and complex designs for renewable storage solutions have already hit the market. Government will also deploy 400 more storage installations this year. These storage facilities are capable of holding the peak hour pressures and electricity demands.
Humans have been dependent on fossil fuels for over 150 years. It may have been convenient for production back then for countries such as the USA, the UK, India, and Australia. However, does it really have a place in the 21st century? Renewable electricity generation has gotten more popular through renewable energy sources. Depending on Australia’s abundance of renewable energy, it is the perfect time to utilize it. Country’s weather seems to align with the new energy shift too.
What Are the Main Sources of Renewable Energy in Australia?
Renewable energy is clean energy derived from renewable resources from our nature. It includes sources like sunlight, wind, water movement, and geothermal heat. The majority of renewable energy sources are sustainable. In 2021, the Australian renewable energy industry accounted for 32.5 percent of total electricity generated in Australia. Compared to 2020, the number increased by 5% in 2021. Therefore, the year 2022 was pivotal for renewable energy targets.
Australia has significant geothermal energy resources that have yet to be defined and quantified. Hot-rock geothermal resources are associated with buried high heat-producing granites. It also works with hot polluted groundwater.
The majority of Australia’s hydro energy resources are located in areas with the highest rainfall and elevation, primarily in New South Wales and Tasmania. Hydro energy resources were first developed in Australia and are now the most important source of renewable electricity. Over much of Australia, a dry climate with high evaporation rates and highly variable rainfall limits significant hydropower expansion.
Australia has some of the world’s best wind energy resources. These are primarily concentrated along the western, south-western, southern, and south-eastern coasts. But these areas extend to hundreds of kilometers in land and include highland areas in south-eastern Australia. Wind energy technology is relatively mature, and wind power is rapidly expanding. Thanks to government policies such as the Renewable Energy Target. Wind energy is expected to overtake solar energy as Australia’s primary renewable energy source soon.
Australia has some of the best solar resources in the world due to high solar radiation levels over large areas. The best solar resources are mostly concentrated in Australia’s northwest and center. Often these areas use off–grid electrical systems because these areas far from major population centers and key energy markets. To date, relatively high capital costs have limited the widespread use of solar energy resources. Still, significant investment in research and development is aimed at increasing solar power efficiency and cost-effectiveness, including the development of solar thermal power stations.
Australia’s western and southern coastlines have world-class wave energy resources, particularly in Tasmania. On the other hand, the best tidal resources are located along the northern margin, Particularly along Western Australia’s northwest coast. These places are far from major demand centers. Most ocean energy technologies are still in their early stages and must be tested in pilot and demonstration plants.
Another significant potential energy resource in Australia is bioenergy. Biomass (organic matter). It can be used to generate electricity, heat, and liquid fuels (biofuels) for transportation. Currently, Australia’s use of bioenergy for electricity generation is limited to bagasse (sugar cane residue), wood waste, and gas from landfills and sewage treatment plants. A small but growing amount of biofuels are produced.
Opportunities in Renewable Energy
In 2021, renewable energy sources will account for 29% of total electricity generation in Australia, including solar (12%), wind (10%), and hydro (6%). The renewables share of total electricity generation in 2021 was the highest on record, surpassing the previous peak of 26% in the mid-1960s.
Over the last decade, wind and solar have been the primary drivers of more than doubling renewable generation expansion. Small-scale solar generation increased by 29% in 2021 and 28% on average over the previous ten years. Wind generation increased by 19% in 2021 and 15% per year on average over the previous decade. According to rainfall and market conditions, hydropower output has fluctuated fairly consistently, losing dominance as generation sources diversified.
Large-scale solar generation has recently begun to expand rapidly. Large-scale solar generation increased from negligible to 4% in 2016. By 2021, total Australian electricity generation representing a 1,747% five-year growth rate.
Many wind farms and solar farms are taking over Australian markets. We can take South Australia as an ideal example in the renewable energy industry. They have been building many power stations and profiting from those.
Benefits of Renewable Energy
- Clean and efficient energy usage.
- Less global warming.
- Improved public health.
- Limitless energy.
- Jobs and other economic benefits.
- Stable energy prices.
- Reliability and resilience.
- Energy independence.
- Easier electricity supply.