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‘Green’ energy industry in Australia

27 July 2015 by News Desk

ind_wind-turbineThe government of Australia is being urged to accelerate plans to generate more renewable energy.

The national renewable energy target was set-up by the Howard government in 2001 and later expanded by the Rudd government to ensure at least 20% of Australia’s power comes from renewable sources by 2020. Under the Gillard government the $2.5bn Australian Renewable Energy Agency was established, as was the $7bn Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The renewable energy industry in Australia is worth over $20 billion.

Australia now has more than 1,800 wind turbines installed and 1.4m rooftop solar systems are in use in homes and businesses. And 12,590 people are employed in the industry full-time.

In 2014, ‘Green’ energy made up 13.5% of the total power supply, with almost half of that coming from decades-old hydro electricity schemes.

Australia is still largely powered by coal. “We have a clapped out old energy fleet that belongs in the Eastern Bloc, not in a sophisticated and clever country such as ours,” Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, said. “With over half of our existing coal fleet beyond its operating life, it is time to clean-up and modernise our power system”.

Since its inception the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has made $1.4bn in commitments to 89 projects. That has generated a further $2.2bn in investments from private lenders, including the big four banks. Its expected rate of return is 6%, almost double the average the government gets from bonds. It is making a profit and paying dividends.

Meanwhile global renewable energy investment has boomed, totalling $310 billion last year, up 16% on 2013. China, the United States and Japan lead the way.

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