2018 was an exceptional year for the Australian clean energy industry. As a result of large-scale investment, state-driven energy-focused policies and increasing public pressure, demand for renewable energy sources from residences and businesses alike, witnessed a surge.
The Clean Energy Council released its annual Clean Energy Australia Report, which contained an expansive and detailed account of every state’s contribution to the nation’s clean energy mission, and also provided information of top-performing industries, policy initiatives, employment and partnership opportunities.
So what were the five things that stood out to us the most? Let us have a look:
1. Previous records were smashed
- Last year, large-scale renewable energy projects worth $20 billion were executed, almost double of what was recorded in 2017.
- Close to 14.5 GW of clean energy was generated through projects which were either under construction or are financially committed.
- 2018 also saw the highest-ever recorded level of energy generation from renewable sources: a whopping 21 per cent.
- Six solar panels were being installed every minute in Australia, with one in five households now having rooftop solar.
2. No direction from the top
With federal elections around the corner, many experts claim that climate change might be the most divisive policy issue. Although states have developed their own renewable energy policies and are setting benchmarks for themselves, there is a dire need for a nationwide streamlined process. For the moment, one can only wait and watch as the next few weeks unfold, as political parties fight hard to arrive at a clean energy policy.
3. Surge in employment
2018 also witnessed a record surge in the number of jobs created in the clean energy sector. Close to 11,000 jobs in construction, 3000 jobs in operations and maintenance, and 6,300 jobs in rooftop solar installation were created a result of exponential growth.
There’s more: These figures were far more than the number of jobs created in the fossil fuel industry.
4. Everybody wants renewable energy
With Australia having some of the highest energy rates in the world, it is unsurprising that businesses are finding it difficult to secure long-term electricity contracts.
As a result, they are opting for sources of renewable energy through power purchase agreements (PPAs) and on-site generation. In 2018, 20 corporate PPAs were signed, with just under half being done in Victoria alone.
Eliminating price uncertainty in unstable markets, improving likelihood of energy cost savings, setting and working towards sustainability targets and enhancing public relations, are all key drivers for this massive increase in such partnerships.
5. Global update
While China remained the top investor in clean energy in 2018 with an investment of $ 100.1 billion, overall international investment took a bit of a dip.
Due to rising capital, set-up and maintenance costs, many organisations are unable to maintain a solid long-term investment in clean energy.
However, all hope is not lost: with a renewed interest in sustainable business practices, organisations and governments alike are working round the clock to meet their clean energy goals.
While 2018 was a record-breaking year for clean energy in Australia, 2019 might be a year of change. With the federal elections around the corner, Australians are curious to see what the ruling government’s stance on clean energy will be, and the policies that will follow suit. In the meantime, businesses have to work in collaboration with their respective state governments to reduce their energy usage and incorporate a cleaner and greener business model.