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Renewables

Renewable energy sources accounted for 6% of Australian energy consumption in 2018–19.

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 nearly half (45%) of all renewable energy consumption in Australia.

 

2018–19

Average annual growth

 

PJ

share

(per cent)

2018–19

(per cent)

10 years

(per cent)

Biomass

179.1

44.8

-5.4

-0.1

   - wood, woodwaste, sulphite lyes

87.8

22.0

-1.6

0.0

   - bagasse

91.3

22.9

-8.9

-0.2

Municipal and industrial waste

4.6

1.2

-3.7

na

Biogas

16.3

4.1

1.4

3.0

   - landfill gas

12.0

3.0

0.2

na

   - other biogas

4.3

1.1

4.8

na

Biofuels

7.4

1.9

3.2

-3.2

   - ethanol

6.1

1.5

0.6

na

   - biodiesel

0.0

0.0

na

na

   - other liquid biofuels

1.3

0.3

15.6

na

Hydro

57.5

14.4

-0.3

1.8

Wind

63.8

16.0

16.7

15.0

Solar PV

53.5

13.4

49.5

48.4

Solar hot water

17.5

4.4

5.6

5.9

Total

399.6

100.0

4.6

3.9

Source: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (2020) Australian Energy Statistics, Tables D, F, O and internal sources

 

In 2019, 21% of Australia’s total electricity generation was from renewable energy sources, including wind (7%), solar (7%) and hydro (5%). The share of renewables in total electricity generation in 2019 was the highest since levels recorded in the early 1970s.

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 25% in 2019, and by an average of 44% per year over the last 10 years. Wind generation grew by 19% in 2019 and by an average of 15% 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 2% of all Australian electricity generation in 2019, representing a three-year growth rate of 825%.

Australian electricity generation from renewable sources

The figure shows Australian electricity generation from renewable sources in gigawatt hours from 1993-94 to 2018-19. Generation from renewables has more than doubled over the past decade. The composition of renewable energy in Australia has diversified significantly as wind and solar have expanded, with hydro fluctuating around a consistent base level.