Australia's investment into renewable energy in the December quarter
In the December quarter, Australia has invested $4.92bn in renewable energy - which is ten times more than the previous period, but is this enough? According to the Clean Energy Council, this pace remains inadequate to meet targets.
The Guardian explains that although the "investment in large scale renewable energy and storage accelerated in the final three months of 2022, creating the largest quarterly investments for more than four years, but the pace remains inadequate."
Alongside the 10-fold increase from the previous quarter, the sudden growth in end of year investment totalled to a 17% increase on the previous year. However, this does not indicate a definite trend, and is far from reaching Australia's targets.
Kane Thornton, the Council Chief executive explains,
“Australia is deploying new large-scale generation – wind and solar farms – more slowly than needed to reach the 82% target for renewable energy on the National Electricity Market by 2030. The fact remains that the rolling quarterly average investment over 12 months has not risen above $2bn since the second quarter of 2019”
The causal factors for the sudden increase in investment
Much of the expansion in renewable energy was due to the financial sign off for the 756MW stage 1 of the Golden Plains wind farms, worth $2bn. This project also accounted for over a third of 1933MW of new installed capacity that reached a financial close during the December quarter. This was up approximately 4-fold from the previous quarter, allowing the 12 month average to reach its highest level yet in 5 quarters.
The latest trends reveal that the industry is relying on fewer, but larger scale projects. Last year, 15 projects totalled 3.57 gigawatts of installed capacity. In comparison, 2021 tallied with 23 projects, totalling 3.06 gigawatts.
The need for more investment for energy reliability
Even with increased investment, Australia does not seem to be doing enough to address the need for greater levels of renewable energy.
The Australian Energy Market Operator warns of potential “reliability gaps” in the national power grid if urgent action in coming years is not taken to encourage greater quantities of clean energy storage. This unreliability of the grid had been proven, when the first major heatwave for eastern NSW broke electricity demand records for March by approximately 1000 megawatts.
Thorton continues to urge the renewable energy target to be extended beyond its 2030 to ensure the sector is supported, explaining that;
“We know that to truly have an effect on long-term energy prices, Australia needs the security provided by low-cost electricity direct from solar and wind and reduce our reliance on increasingly expensive gas and unreliable coal generation."
Read the full Guardian article.
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