Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Renewable Electricity Generation in Australia

Renewable Sources of electricity production have been growing rapidly in recent years, but the contribution of solar still remains minuscule as I reported here a little while ago. I imagine most people would be quite surprised by the figures.

The Clean Energy Council has just released a report on the state of Clean Energy in Australia.

Though the news reports laud the achievements we still have a long way to go before we can call ourselves a clean energy country.

Most of our renewable contribution to electricity production (remember that electricity and energy are two different concepts with the former a component part of the latter).

Basically about 10 per cent of our electricity generation is accounted for by renewable sources.

So what are these renewable sources. Most important of course is hydro power, which has benefited from high rainfall, allowing more run-off and hence more electricity generation. Wind is obviously next most important and most of the most significant proposed increases in renewable generation are wind projects.

Solar accounts for very little of this. Indeed Solar in total accounts for 2.315% of 9.64%, which equals 0.22% of total electricity generation.

Undoubtedly, solar installations have been increasing rapidly.

But the benefits of generous state schemes to pay households for solar contributions to the electricity grid are only available to those able to afford solar systems on their roof tops. This means poorer households and renters gain no benefits and have at the same time seen significant increases in electricity costs.

Although there is debate about the reasons for electricity price increases, there is no doubt that electricity prices have increased. The CEC reports that "Electricity prices in Australia have risen about 30 per cent over the last four years." The CEC argues:
There are several factors behind the recent price rises. By far the largest is the need to
replace and upgrade the ageing poles and wires of the national electricity grid, some of
which have been in service for more than 40 years
. Recent estimates suggest that more
than $130 billion will be necessary to upgrade the network over the next decade, growing
to $220 billion over 20 years.(1) Research indicates that these network costs will cause price
rises of up to 66 per cent in NSW and Queensland by 2015.(2) Similar increases are likely in
other states and territories.
Other reasons for power price rises include the increasing cost to generate electricity with
both coal and gas along with the increased use of energy-intensive appliances such as
air-conditioners and flat-screen televisions, which increase peak demand for electricity
and overall costs.
1 K Orchison, Coolibah Pty Ltd, Powering Australia, 2011, page 19.
2 P Simshauser, T Nelson, T Doan, AGL,The Boomerang Paradox Part 1: how a nation’s wealth is creating fuel poverty, The Electricity Journal, 24(1), 2001,
pages 72-91. 
They are rather more sanguine than others about solar rebates: 
According to analysis prepared for the Clean Energy Council by ROAM
Consulting in 2011, the combined cost of both small and large-scale renewable energy
comes to approximately $78 per year for the average Australian household. This works
out to $1.50 per week. By 2020 the cost of renewable energy is expected to make up
between 4 and 7 per cent of the average household power bill.(3)
3 J Riesz and J Gilmore, ROAM Consulting, The True Costs and Benefits of the Enhanced RET, 2011, page iii

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully the nimby crowd won't be able to block future wind power developments, as has been happening lately in Victoria. - Lugg


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