Australia has achieved a new milestone in renewable energy, with over one-third of its electricity now fueled by renewable sources during the first quarter of 2024. This record-breaking achievement comes amid the peak summer demand, highlighting the significant contributions from solar and wind farms.

Solar and Wind Power Lead the Charge

In the initial months of 2024, solar farms generated 13.11 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, marking a 13.5% increase from the previous year. Wind power also experienced growth, producing 7.53 TWh, up by 6.5% compared to last year. Together, these renewable sources have delivered a total of 20.64 TWh, the highest for any first quarter.

This remarkable performance follows only behind the final quarter of 2023, highlighting the strong upward trend in clean energy production. Australia’s energy landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by an expansion in utility-scale renewable capacity.

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Moving Away from Fossil Fuels

Historically dependent on fossil fuels, with coal powering 75% of electricity by the end of 2020, Australia is now witnessing a dramatic shift. Coal’s contribution has reduced to 55%, down from over 70% in 2020, propelled by societal and policy shifts towards renewable energy.

The renewable surge is also supported by a boom in rooftop solar installations. Around 3 million households have adopted solar power, generating about 11.2% of Australia’s electricity in 2023. Despite slowing future expansions due to grid connection challenges and reduced incentives, the impact of rooftop solar remains significant.

From 2020 to 2023, utility-level solar electricity generation surged by approximately 90%, and wind power output increased by about 40%. Meanwhile, coal and gas-fired generation fell by 12% and 23% respectively.

Doubling of Renewable Capacity

Renewable generation capacity has more than doubled within four years, soaring from less than 20 gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to over 40 GW by 2022. In contrast, fossil fuel capacity saw a modest increase from 51 GW to 53.8 GW. By the end of 2023, renewables nearly accounted for half of Australia’s energy generation capacity.

Analysts anticipate continued growth in renewable capacity, especially solar power, which could see utility-scale solar capacity rise from 22 GW at the year’s end to over 80 GW by 2029. Storage solutions, including batteries and pumped hydro, are also expected to expand dramatically, potentially exceeding 22 GW by 2030.

These developments place Australia on a fast track towards becoming a global leader in renewable energy by the 2030s, marking a significant departure from its historical reliance on fossil fuels.

Image Source: Energy Magazine