Even Under a Coal-Loving Leader, Australia Is Leading the Charge for Renewables

Solar all day!
Photo: AP

In Australia, record-breaking rooftop solar installations are helping the country increase its renewable energy generation. By 2030, renewables could make up more than half the electricity generated in the land down under, according to an analysis out Wednesday from a team of researchers.

Currently, coal makes up half of Australia’s energy generation. However, as Australian market analysis group RepuTex shows, that percentage will likely go down as wind and solar (including utility-run and rooftop setups) expand. That’s thanks to individual states that have set their own renewable energy targets.

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Current Prime Minister Scott Morrison is more interested in continuing the coal reign in the country, but state leaders have a different set of plans that won’t let Australia continue to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Queensland and Victoria have renewable energy target plans that aim to get half of the states’ electricity generation from renewables in the next 10 years. They’re helping drive this reality with or without the federal government’s support.

By 2030, Aussies could see more than 10 percent of their electricity come from rooftop solar, about 11 percent come from utility solar, and more than 17 percent come from wind. Coal, on the other hand, could drop to a mere 30 percent.

Still, these gains will eventually slow down if the federal government doesn’t step in, per the RepuTex analysis. State-led efforts can go only so far: The market won’t incentivize further renewables development if there isn’t movement from the federal government to transition coal plants out. Without a policy push, the market will for renewables could remain uncertain enough to slow some of their growth.

Regardless, Australia is likely to stay ahead of other developed nations in the renewables race. Renewable energy generation is projected to reach only 30 percent in the U.S.—and that’s by 2050. However, sustainable renewable generation requires all hands on deck.

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About the author

Yessenia Funes

I mostly write about how environmental policy and climate change intersect with race and class though I occasionally write about animals, science, and art, too. We all need an escape, right?

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