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Wind and solar step up to increase Australia’s renewable power

Media release from Clean Energy Council:

Continued growth in wind and solar power picked up to cover lower-than-average production from Australia’s hydro power plants last year, delivering an increase in the amount of Australia’s electricity coming from renewable energy, according to the Clean Energy Australia Report 2015.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said although 2015 was a tough year for the Australian renewable energy industry, it ended with a lot of optimism as the sector turned its eyes towards the future.

“Even though hydro power was down, largely as a result of the historically low rainfall in Tasmania, the proportion of Australia’s electricity provided by renewable energy increased in 2015 due to a good boost from wind and solar power. Renewables delivered 14.6 per cent of our electricity, enough to light up the equivalent of approximately 6.7 million average homes,” Mr Thornton said.

“Eight major solar farms and five new wind farms became operational last year. Two of Australia’s three largest solar power plants at Nyngan and Broken Hill became operational in 2015, while the other at Moree in northern New South Wales was officially launched in the early part of 2016.

“The role and support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and leadership from state and territory governments – particularly the ACT – were key drivers of this investment during 2015.

“The industry is just under halfway towards meeting the 2020 RET. We will need a lot more projects to move forward during the rest of this year to meet the national 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET), a $40 billion economic opportunity that has the potential to create more than 15,200 jobs.

“The good news is that investment confidence continues to grow in 2016, and there are more than enough projects either under construction or with development approvals to meet the target.

“Rooftop solar power continues to shine on, as homes and businesses recognise its potential to reduce energy costs. With the continued reduction of state feed-in tariffs, solar power sales have dropped to lower but more sustainable levels.”

The Clean Energy Australia Report 2015 includes a comprehensive round-up of renewable energy projects, investment, employment and electricity generation. It is the only analysis that includes the National Electricity Market, the Western Australian electricity grid and other major regional grids across the country in areas such as the Northern Territory.

Mr Thornton said the review of the RET, which was resolved in mid-2015, had impacted confidence across the first half of last year, leading to reduced employment opportunities and investment.

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