Australia is a big country, famed for its vastness. From the enormous Great Barrier Reef to the endless Outback, the country operates on dimensions that are hard for the human mind to grasp. And when it comes to the energy transition, the scale of Australian achievement is no less impressive.
Despite little support for clean energy at federal government level, Australia has embraced renewables to a far greater extent than almost anywhere else on earth. In South Australia, for example, more than 35% of all homes and businesses have rooftop solar systems.
When the sun is shining, as it often does in Australia, this can add up to 1.5 GW of power. This means rooftop solar is South Australia’s main source of energy—but only during daytime.
Massive though it is, rooftop solar is not the only source of clean power generation on the Australian energy system. According to the Australian Clean Energy Council, in 2019 the country had almost 11.2 GW of wind, solar and hydro capacity, making up 24% of annual electricity generation.
Hydro-heavy Tasmania leads the country in terms of renewable energy penetration, with almost 96% of electricity coming from renewables. Then there’s South Australia, with 52%, Victoria, with 24%, and Western Australia—on a separate grid to the rest of the country—with 21%.
The strides being made in renewables deployment are laudable from a carbon emissions perspective, but their effects on the grid are beginning to be felt.