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Renewable energy is taking the world by storm, and Australia wants to jump on board


Around the world, the trends are clear – renewable energy is pushing all boundaries. Solar farms and wind turbines are popping up in staggering numbers; something to celebrate in the face of climate change.

Global investments in renewable energy totalled USD 288.9 billion in 2018, greatly exceeding investments in new fossil fuel power. These funded a range of renewable energy initiatives, from large-scale energy projects to small-scale rooftop solar and battery storage.

Across the world, solar installations have given some communities access to electricity for the first time, helped others save on power bills, and created clean energy jobs for many.

Countries leading the way

In 2018, China led investments in renewables for the seventh year in a row, followed by the European Union and the United States. Additionally, a growing number of countries now have robust clean energy systems in place. Iceland already generates almost 100 per cent of its energy from renewables, and Costa Rica generated 95 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in the last four years. Over a hundred cities run on at least 70 per cent renewable energy.

With the cost of solar and wind projected to decrease, all the trends point towards 50 per cent of global power to be generated from wind, solar and batteries by 2050. This needs to happen due to the ongoing rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases, with emissions from fossil fuels as the main contributor. Global electricity generation today is still led by coal (38%), followed by natural gas (23%), hydropower (16%), nuclear (10%), wind and solar (9%), oil (3%) and others (1%).

Demand for electricity is also expected to increase by 62 per cent by 2050. This means that non-renewables will keep releasing harmful emissions into the air to compensate for this growing demand. We need a massive shift towards clean energy worldwide to counteract this possibility, and urgently.

Australia’s solar revolution needs to kick more goals

Australians are fortunate to live in a country blessed with sun and tremendous potential to deliver renewable energy, reducing local and global emissions.

Only 21 per cent of total electricity in Australia came from renewable sources in 2018 – our highest percentage ever, but still well behind the rest of the world. This is the result of significant investments in large-scale renewable energy projects totalling over AUD 20 billion and creating over 13,000 jobs.

Unfortunately, Australia lacks strong federal commitment to renewable energy. What’s worse is that new research suggests that due to its fuel exports, Australia could become responsible for 17 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions by 2030, which is wildly disproportionate to our status as a middle-income country.

With the climate crisis leading to more hot days, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and longer drought events for Australians, now is the time to commit more significantly to clean energy, especially at the federal level. This would send a strong market signal to investors and join global efforts to safeguard our common future.

One in five Australian households now have solar panels installed on their roofs, which shows strong local support for solar power. The amount of solar batteries for households is also expected to increase, and using an accredited installer is the only way to ensure that renewable energy solutions remain viable and safe for all, as Australians join the renewable energy revolution.

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