Australia’s Renewable Energy Investments Surged by 10x in Fourth Quarter of 2022
This is the highest quarterly investment since 2018, according to data reported Thursday by the nonprofit renewable industry group the Clean Energy Council. But more is still needed for the country to meet its climate commitments.
“While the uptick is encouraging, one quarter doesn’t mean a trend,” Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said in a statement. “Australia is deploying new large-scale generation – wind and solar farms – more slowly than needed to reach the 82 per cent target for renewable energy on the National Electricity Market.”
The increase in investments came at the close of the year in which Australia elected a new government that promised increased action on the climate crisis. The government of Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese promised to reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050, which means ensuring 82 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources by the end of the current decade.
Thornton said the change in political leadership had clearly incentivized investors. Overall, renewable energy investment in 2022 was up 17 percent from 2021, for a yearly total of $6.2 billion, according to the Clean Energy Council’s Renewable Projects Quarterly Report for Q4 2022.
Investments especially surged during the very end of last year — in the last quarter, they were 10 times what they had been during the three months before, The Guardian reported. The report follows other positive Australia renewable news — the fourth quarter of 2022 also saw record renewable electricity generation and record low demand and emissions.
However, it also comes weeks after the country’s national energy market operator warned that the east coast of Australia could begin to see blackouts in the middle of the current decade if renewable projects are not developed quickly enough to replace coal, Reuters reported.
“Urgent and ongoing investment in renewable energy, long-duration storage and transmission is needed to reliably meet demand from Australian homes and businesses,” Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Daniel Westerman said at the time.
“The current policy settings are only going to get us so far, and it’s clear that with significant shifts in capital overseas through the United States Inflation Reduction Act and other responses from the likes of the European Union and the Gulf States, Australia needs to do more,” Thornton said in a statement.
The Clean Energy Council is therefore calling for Australia’s Renewable Energy Target to both be raised and extended past 2030. The target — sourcing 33,000 gigawatt-hours of Australia’s energy from renewables by 2020 — was met more than a year before the deadline, but major energy users are still mandated to maintain their targets through 2030, the Clean Energy Council explained.