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NSW still stuck in the slow lane on renewables, Climate Council says

The Climate Council report said NSW lost marks for not having a renewable energy target and no plans to replace its ageing and unreliable coal power stations. Photo by X. K. on Unsplash
The Climate Council report said NSW lost marks for not having a renewable energy target and no plans to replace its ageing and unreliable coal power stations. Photo by X. K. on Unsplash

NSW is barely off the starting blocks in the race to transition to renewable energy, with Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia leading the pack.

Victoria and Queensland are hot on the heels of the leaders, with the latter making the most of its sunny climate and boasting the highest proportion of households with rooftop solar (32.9 per cent).

These are some of the key findings of the 2018 Climate Council renewable energy scorecard released on Tuesday. The scorecard rates the states and territories across a range of renewable energy measures, including each state’s proportion of renewable energy, wind and solar capacity per capita, proportion of households with solar, and renewable energy targets and policies.

South Australia remains strong on the renewables front, with the largest amount of installed wind and solar capacity (1831MW). The state is also on track to reach its 73 per cent renewable energy target in just two years.

Tasmania achieved net zero emissions and has the highest proportion of renewable electricity of any state – an impressive 87.4 per cent. The island state is aiming for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2022.

NSW lost marks for not having a renewable energy target. The state also doesn’t have plans to replace its ageing and unreliable coal power stations.

But it’s not all bad news for NSW. The state has the second largest installed wind and solar capacity (1759MW), followed by Victoria (1634MW).

Western Australia is now the only state or territory without a renewable energy target or policy to achieve net zero emissions. However, the state is still taking advantage of its sunny weather and has the third highest proportion of households with rooftop solar.

Although Queensland and Victoria are still tailing the frontrunners, this looks set to change. Both states have ambitious renewable energy targets and policies to increase the amount of renewable energy.

Victoria’s Labor government is even pinning its electoral hopes on renewables and other environmental measures.

Renewables are on the rise all over the world, with more solar PV capacity added globally than coal, gas and nuclear combined in 2017.

The report also found that:

  • Almost three quarters of new energy generation capacity added globally was renewable in 2017
  • Electricity generation from coal and gas fell for the fifth consecutive year
  • Around 17 countries (not Australia) generated more than 90 per cent of their electricity with renewable energy in 2017.

“Federally, Australia still isn’t doing enough when it comes to tackling greenhouse gas pollution. Based on our current track record, it doesn’t even look like we’ll meet our woefully low emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,” the Climate Council said.

“And as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report has warned us, we need a tremendous global effort to keep temperature rise below 1.5?C, wind back worsening extreme weather events aggravated by climate change, and protect lives and livelihoods now, and tomorrow.”

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