Simon Holmes a Court launches Hepburn Community Wind Farm

Australian renewables came near 10% in 2011

“In the year to October 2011, just under 10 per cent of Australia’s electricity came from renewable energy. This represents a large rise on previous years due to a resurgent hydro sector and more power generated by the country’s wind farms. ”

This is the information highlighted in NewEnergyNews from the December report by the Clean Energy Council.

“Australia’s electricity generators produced over 300 terawatt-hours of electricity in the last year to the end of September 2011.The contribution of renewable energy rose to 9.6 per cent of the total electricity produced during this period, up from 8.7 per cent the year before.

“Many of Australia’s key hydro catchments experienced the best rainfall in years following a long period of drought and additional generation from new wind power lifted the renewable energy generation total higher than in previous years. Household solar power still contributes a modest proportion of Australia’s renewable energy, but its record growth in 2010 and 2011 is starting to reduce demand across the country while making a significant contribution to the country’s energy mix.”

As the CEC noted in their press release, “Over one million Australians now live in a solar household. Solar power has come of age and is now a real part of Australia’s energy sector.”

We are still dwarfed by Germany, for example – who installed 7.5GW of solar in 2011 – but some progress is clearly being made. While the increase is partly accounted for by the increase in capacity of longstanding hydro capacity, new wind power is also beginning to make a difference.

CEC director Kane Thornton is quoted in their press release:

“We are already starting to see a boost from the energy produced by wind farms, with wind energy supplying enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of around 900,000 homes. Wind power is the lowest-cost form of renewable energy that can be rolled out on a large scale and we expect it to play a major part in meeting Australia’s 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.

“Overall, renewable energy produced enough power for more than four million homes and came at a very low cost to consumers.”

You can download the full report here, and the NewEnergyNews article continues to summarise some of the findings in more detail here.

Simon Holmes a Court launches Hepburn Community Wind Farm
Simon Holmes a Court launches Hepburn Community Wind Farm, which came online in 2011 (pic: Hepburn Wind)

4 thoughts on “Australian renewables came near 10% in 2011

  1. Great post Ben, onwards and upwards for renewables. It will be interesting to see what this year’s growth will be. Hopefully it’ll be pretty substantial and give the political right something to reassess – and Mutton Ferguson :-)

  2. We’ve got a looooong way to go, but feel free to pat yourselves on the back Australia for this tiny effort, despite other countries being way ahead of us on this.

    No mention of the amount of ‘renewables’ in the two biggest areas of fossil fuel consumption which is telling – transport fuels & agricultural additives (fertilisers, etc). That 10% starts to look even less impressive.

    The fact that we don’t solar supplying much of our power needs in a country like Australia is an absolute disgrace but it shows just how addicted we are to cheap energy. If we want a non-fossil fuel future, we need to pay for it (and it is going to be expensive) – we either pay high prices in a controlled manner, or we have it forced upon us by nature. My money is on the latter.

    Too many idiots are fixated on slapping photo-voltaics on the roofs of their poorly designed, hot box houses so they can run their air conditioners for longer (which is what really happens)… instead of building proper houses that make the most of passive solar and will work all year round, with no intervention. The problem with this sensible approach is that it isn’t good for ‘business’ as there are no ‘products’ to sell…

    Good luck with the future folks! I’m getting my popcorn. The next few decades are going to get ugly.

    BTW: You can’t build a wind turbine, a hydro-electric plant, a solar farm or even a nuclear facility with the energy that these capture – we need fossil fuels to build future infrastructure but instead we keep on burning it in our desire for happy motoring. Humanity deserves what is heading its way.

    1. Wow, lots of complaining but not much in the way of positive suggestions.

      PS, not all of us live in hot boxes that are badly designed. Some of us made the effort to design and live in low energy houses. What about some credit where it’s due?

  3. A great blog. Thanks for the info.

    Notice that government-legislated sustainable energy targets dramatically contribute to the progress we see in countries such as Australia, Germany, Spain, Argentina and Scandinavia.

    It just doesn’t happen without government leadership. Whatever the politics are in the land of Oz, the whole world can see the Aussie government is environmentally progressive.

    Twenty percent of energy from sustainable sources by 2020 is both a realistic goal and a worthy goal.

    Every country could do this – if they would only expend the effort to do so. Highest marks to the ones who are making the effort!

    One last thing. If the Australian government passed legislation requiring only ONE solar panel per household rooftop and ONE solar panel per commercial building – feeding power into the grid all day, every day, it would go a long way towards lowering the pressure on non-solar power generation. That solar electricity would displace other, less clean, electrical power generation.

    Cheers! – to all my Aussie friends.

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