A new report published by Australia’s Climate Council has shown just how dramatically “Australia is lagging behind the world’s major economies when it comes to renewable energy generation” due to the current policy uncertainty resulting from the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target, and despite the fact that Australia has “enough renewable energy resources to power the country 500 times over.”
The report, The Global Renewable Energy Boom: How Australia Is Missing Out, highlights the decreasing costs of renewable energy, which are “now cost-comparative or cheaper than fossil fuels for generating electricity,” with the cost of wind and solar also expected to continue “to fall steeply.”
Around the world, investment in renewable energy has sky-rocketed. In 2014, investment grew in China by 32%, the US by 8%, Japan 12%, Germany 3%, and in the UK by 3%.
Meanwhile, in Australia, clean energy investment plummeted 35%, with large-scale renewable energy investment falling by 88%.
“Australia’s G20 allies and trading partners are embracing renewable energy, with all but two setting targets (and many of the sub-national jurisdictions in these two countries (Canada and the US) have progressive renewable energy policies),” the report’s authors conclude. “Three of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, China, the EU and India, expanded their renewable energy targets over the past year. And the UK’s political leaders have jointly agreed to end the use of coal for power generation.”
More specifically, the report highlighted four key findings from their study of G20 economies’ energy and electricity generation:
- Renewable energy is booming globally, with strong growth in investment and jobs. In contrast, though, Australian jobs and investment in the renewable sector have fallen sharply.
- An important driver for the global renewable energy acceleration is the steep decline in costs of wind and solar. Hundreds of thousands of Australian households have benefited with solar PV panel prices falling 75% in the last 5 years.
- Countries with consistent long-term renewable energy policies are attracting growth.
- Australia has excellent renewable energy resources, but is missing out on the global renewable boom due to policy uncertainty and threats to wind back the Renewable Energy Target.
800,000 jobs were created in the renewable energy sector worldwide during between 2012 and 2013, and the US added over 31,000 new solar jobs in 2014. Conversely, Australia saw jobs in the renewable energy industry fall by 13% in 2013, despite global employment growing by the same amount.
The full report is available for free from the Climate Council website, for those wanting to read further on the above four key findings.