Apr 18, 2019Clean Energy Future

New Renewable Energy Report Focuses on Energy Mix

It’s official, 2018 was a bumper year for the renewable energy industry in Australia.

A recently released report from the Clean Energy Council – the peak body for businesses operating in the sector – shows materially increased investment and generation of renewable energy in 2018.

“The report reflects on an unprecedented period where more rooftop and commercial solar was installed than ever before, and Australia celebrated a milestone of 2 million solar homes nationally,” Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said.

The portion of total electricity generation from renewable sources rose to 21%, its highest ever level. In terms of location, renewable energy penetration was highest in Tasmania, at over 95%, followed by South Australia, at 53%. Even so, the top three postcodes with the highest uptake of rooftop solar are Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and Toowoomba, cementing Queensland’s place as the sunshine state.

The increase of renewables in our energy mix is undoubtedly good for our environment, while creating investment and jobs. However, as market operators have pointed out, the evolution of our energy system to accommodate renewable energy can cause significant volatility in the grid, and solutions need to be identified to remedy this.

Subject matter experts – including Australia’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel,  the International Energy Agency IEA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – see gas as part of the solution to this challenge.

“Substantial GHG emissions reductions would be possible if gas was used to provide baseload and peak electrical power generation in Australia under scenarios of higher intermittent renewables energy and gas use,” the Australian Council of Learned Academies says.

“The flexibility that natural gas brings to an energy system can also make it a good fit for the rise of variable renewables such as wind and solar PV,” the IEA says.

As investment in the renewables sector continues, Australians will be enjoying more energy supplied by wind and solar. When we see dips in output (like when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing), our energy needs will need to be met by a synchronous energy source with the ability to stabilise the system. Natural gas is an obvious choice given it has lower emissions than other fossil fuels and can be brought online in a matter of minutes.

For more information on the Australian energy mix and natural gas stay tuned to Brighter.