Australia is experiencing a remarkable renewable energy transition. The pipeline for new wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity systems is 6-7 Gigawatts (GW) per year for the period 2019-21. This equates to 250 Watts per person per year compared with about 50 Watts per person per year for the EU, Japan, China, and the United States.
In 2018, Australia deployed 5.2 GW of PV and wind systems (3.5 GW ground-mounted, 1.7 GW roof-mounted). Clean Energy Regulator data indicates that the current ground-mounted PV and wind pipeline is about 4.3 GW per year. Roof-mounted PV is increasing by about 50% per year and might exceed 2 GW in 2019, for a total renewables deployment of about 6.3 GW. At this rate, Australia is on track to reach 50% renewable electricity in 2024 and 100% in 2032.
The electricity sector is on track to deliver Australia’s entire Paris emissions reduction targets five years early, in 2025. This is one of the world’s fastest sustainable rates of emissions reduction. Remarkably, the net cost is zero because expensive fossil fuels are being replaced by cheaper renewables. Australia is on track for deep and rapid greenhouse emissions reductions through deep renewable electrification.
Straightforward deployment of off-the-shelf storage (pumped hydro and batteries) and stronger interstate high voltage powerlines can be used to stabilise a 100% renewable energy grid at modest cost. It is critical that federal and state governments facilitate the construction of additional transmission and storage to maintain the momentum.
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