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Renewables

Renewable energy sources accounted for 7% of Australian energy consumption in 2019-20.

Renewable electricity generation has more than doubled over the last decade, but combustion of biomass such as firewood and bagasse (the remnant sugar cane pulp left after crushing) remains more than two fifths (40%) of all renewable energy consumption in Australia.

 

2019–20

Average annual growth

 

PJ

share

(per cent)

2018–19

(per cent)

10 years

(per cent)

Biomass

169.3

40.4

-5.7

0.1

   - wood, woodwaste, sulphite lyes

85.5

20.4

-3.1

0.1

   - bagasse

83.8

20.0

-8.2

0.1

Municipal and industrial waste

4.0

1

-13.2

na

Biogas

16.7

4.0

2.1

1.9

   - landfill gas

12.3

2.9

2.5

na

   - other biogas

4.4

1.0

0.8

na

Biofuels

6.6

1.6

-10.5

-6.9

   - ethanol

5.4

1.3

-11.3

na

   - biodiesel

0.1

0.0

na

na

   - other liquid biofuels

1.1

0.3

-11.2

na

Hydro

54.5

13.0

-5.1

-1.1

Wind

73.4

17.5

15.2

14.4

Solar PV

75.7

18.1

41.7

33.8

Solar hot water

18.5

4.4

4.8

5.2

Total

418.8

100.0

4.6

4.0

Source: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (2021) Australian Energy Statistics, Tables D, F, O and internal sources

 

In 2020, 24% of Australia’s total electricity generation was from renewable energy sources, including solar (9%), wind (9%) and hydro (6%). The share of renewables in total electricity generation in 2020 was the highest since levels recorded in the mid-1960s.

Solar and wind have been the primary drivers in more than doubling renewable generation expansion over the last decade. Small-scale solar generation grew by 27% in 2020, and by an average of 28% per year over the last 10 years. Wind generation grew by 16% in 2020 and by an average of 14% per year over the last decade. Hydro power output has fluctuated around a fairly consistent level according to rainfall and market conditions, losing predominance as generation sources diversified.

Recently, large-scale solar generation has begun rapid expansion. Large-scale solar generation has grown from negligible levels before 2016 to 3% of all Australian electricity generation in 2020, representing a four-year growth rate of 1,268%.

Australian electricity generation from renewable sources

Stacked area chart of Australian electricity generation from renewable sources by fuel. The y axis is gigawatt hours from zero to sixty-thousand. The x axis is years. There are four series. Hydro is dark blue. It was historically the majority of renewable generation and has remained fairly flat. Wind is grey. It has grown strongly since the early 2000s. Bioenergy is light blue, It has remained fairly stable. Solar is teal. It has grown strongly since 2008-09.