Based on current projections, Labor’s proposed 50% commitment to renewable energy could turn out to be unambitious.
Green Energy Markets’ latest Renewable Energy Index claims that if renewables continue to be deployed at the rate since 2017, Australia would be on track to achieve 78% renewable energy generation by 2030.
The report goes on to say Labor’s targets could lead to a reduction in employment and a major contraction in construction. Currently, renewable projects and rooftop solar installations support over 24,000 jobs, whereas Labor’s policy would see this drop by 75%, to just under 5,900. The current government’s pledge would see even larger contraction; to around 3,039.
This 78% projection is hardly surprising given consistent reports of records being broken in renewable installations, in particular with solar energy. October saw rooftop solar breaking a new record with 150MW installed and bringing the total in 2018 to beat 2017’s total (which in itself was a record) with two months to spare.
Despite the surge in deployment, there are reports that Australia’s emissions have still risen this year, driven in part by an increase in natural gas and coal production, as well as in the transport sector. The continued surge in deployment may therefore be very much necessary if Australia hopes to keep its Paris commitments.
In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Jérôme Pécresse from GE recently commented that the rate of renewable installations will soon outpace Labor’s targets and echoed Kerry Schott of the Energy Security Board’s recent comments that the grid in its current state is not capable of handling this generation.
The government may therefore need to focus on encouraging and supporting grid infrastructure investment to ensure this seemingly inevitable path towards a greater share of renewable generation can be supported by the grid, whether this is achieved by energy storage or alternative grid regulation services.
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