Australia’s renewable boom outruns the rest of the world

Despite the impacts of COVID-19, Australia was the global leader for green energy uptake in 2020, with an 18.4 per cent rate of growth – almost double the global average.

While many industries suffered, Data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found that the green energy industry grew globally by over 260 GW, amounting to a 50 per cent net increase on renewables added in 2019.

2020 was a hugely disrupted year as lockdowns were put in place, entire industries were shut down and international travel was heavily restricted in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Of all new electricity added last year, 80 per cent came from eco-friendly sources – with solar and wind making up 91 per cent of that expansion. It was also a big year for hydropower – including construction on the world’s second-largest hydropower station in China, which will begin operation in July this year.

IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera hailed the result as the beginning of a “decade of renewables”.

This means we could stall the increase of climate change at 1.5°C

The world is locked in a fight against climate change and its resulting global warming, melting of the polar ice caps and severe weather events. Transitioning from fossil fuels towards renewable energy is part of a global push to achieve carbon neutrality, and halt the planet’s temperature increase to under 1.5°C.

Mr La Camera spoke after the recent Leaders Summit on Climate (hosted by the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden), where he said a 1.5°C future is still possible.

“What is encouraging is that the commitments being made by the world’s major polluters leave the door to a 1.5°C future still open,” he said.

“We need to see what other countries will commit before or during COP26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) to know whether this is possible.”

The COP26 summit will be held from November 1-12 in Glasgow, bringing nations together to accelerate action towards the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Australian states add large renewable energy capacity in 2020

Green energy projects and uptake in Western Australia and South Australia helped the nation achieve its record year in 2020.

WA added 300 MW in solar capacity during the peak of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This was over the 200 MW originally predicted, which was not expected to be reached because of the impacts of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, SA achieved record low daytime wholesale prices for the first three months of the year, with green energy driving power prices down twice. It comes after SA renewables made up 60 per cent of the total amount of power in their grid in 2020 – a global first that has not been achieved by any other major jurisdiction.

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