Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s energy trends: we could be 100% renewable sooner than you think

Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think, Guardian, 

Not since the invention of the steam engine have we seen the pace of change occurring in energy systems around the world. In Australia our electricity system is changing rapidly, from new technologies and business models to changes in policy and perhaps even regulation. As the year begins, here are five energy trends you should expect to see in 2019.

1. More action towards 100% renewable energy

Last year was a boom year for renewables. Despite rhetoric from some political quarters talking up coal and talking down renewable energy, we installed more solar panels and wind turbines than ever before. There are at least 40 large-scale wind and solar projects in construction in Australia, totalling over 6000MWs of new generation capacity. This means renewables will continue on a steep growth curve as analysis by the Melbourne University Climate and Energy College shows.

This rapid growth in renewables and soon battery storage is at least in part driven by a corresponding reduction in cost. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis reveals a compound annual reduction in cost of battery storage of 21% over eight years. Facts such as these are the engine driving us towards 100% renewables at a pace much faster than most pundits think.

At a political level California has just legislated a move to 100% renewables, while at home South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT are on track to be net 100% renewables in the next few years. With everyone from tech billionaires to school students demanding 100% renewables, pressure for a more rapid shift to renewables is likely to continue to build.

Many still think that 100% renewables can’t be done. In 2017 ANU, Energy Networks Australia and CSIRO joined the ranks of Australia’s leading institutions on energy that have now done their own plans to show Australia can reliably achieve 100% renewables. This takes the number of 100% renewables plans for Australia to more than 10.

In the corporate sector, global initiative The RE100 has arrived in Australia. This initiative which encourages companies to commit to 100% renewables has seen global companies headquartered outside of Australia such as Carlton United Breweries and Ikea lead the way. In late 2018 Commonwealth Bank became the first Australian company to join, signing a large power purchase agreement in the process.

2. Solar for renters and other locked-out energy users……..For a long time these households have been in the too-hard basket for policymakers and industry alike. However, there are signs that in 2019 this could be changing. The Victorian and South Australian governments have announced policies to support 50,000 rental properties to access solar, and for South Australia, batteries also. In NSW the government is trialling a program of solar for 15,000 low-income energy rebate customers. These are small steps, but if scaled could start to change the current trend towards solar energy haves and have-nots.

3. Community energy going gangbusters

Communities are also taking matters into their own hands, developing innovative community-owned clean energy projects and implementing plans to move to 100% renewables. Despite a lack of interest from mainstream energy players and little policy support, Australia’s community energy sector has grown to more than 105 groups and 174 operating projects. Most famously the communities of Yackandandah and Daylesford……

4. A battle between good and bad hydrogen

Hydrogen fuel is not a new idea, yet in 2019 hydrogen is likely to make significant strides towards becoming a major part of our global energy ecosystem……..

5. Clean energy elections

No 2019 trend article is complete without mentioning the upcoming elections. According to researcher Rebecca Huntly climate change is a top issue with the electorate and as such both the NSW and federal elections are going to have a focus on climate and energy policy whether politicians like it or not…….

January 15, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy

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