Tarraleah power station. Image: Hydro Tasmania.
BY ELIZABETH FABRI
MORE than 17 per cent of Australia’s electricity came from renewable energy in 2016, with hydro power as its largest contributor, according the Clean Energy Council’s latest report.
In 2016, hydro provided 42.3 per cent of the renewable energy total, followed by wind (30.8 per cent), and small-scale solar PV (16 per cent).
The increase in hydro power was largely attributed to heavy rainfall in key catchments, and the repair of the Basslink cable that exported power from Tasmania to the mainland.
Non-hydro power such as solar, wind and bioenergy also delivered 10 per cent of Australia’s power.
Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the electricity generated from renewables was the highest proportion seen this century and put Australia on track to deliver the 2020 renewable energy target (RET).
“The changes that are happening across the country right now are extraordinary,” Mr Thornton said.
“Renewable energy is now the cheapest kind of new power generation that can be built today – less than both new coal and new gas-fired power plants.
“The price of gas in particular has skyrocketed.”
Mr Thornton said in 2016 total investment in large-scale renewable energy was $2.56 billion, and in the first five months of 2017 this had more than doubled with $5.2 billion worth of projects securing finance.
“Employment figures are likely to increase substantially in 2017 with more than 35 large-scale projects already under construction or starting this year, adding up to more than $7.5 billion in investment and more than 4100 additional direct jobs,” he said.