Competition between Australian states is not a new thing, for example clashes between sporting teams from different states generate so much more buzz than local matches. However, when it comes to renewable energy, the usual competitive streak is nowhere to be seen. This article looks the current renewable output per state, seeing who is leading the charge for cleaner ene
Australia is in a unique position in the world in having a relatively small population with a large landmass that holds far more potential renewable energy sources than the population currently needs.
Australia currently uses 200Twh/yr of electricity, but statistics from the 2014 Climate Council report state there is potential to generate 86,000TWh/per year by maximising renewable energy use.
For the most part the individual states are making little use of renewable energy, despite the environmental benefits and economic advantages. Below is a break down how each state performs on renewable energy.
New South Wales: Highest consumption of any state
The premier state is the oldest and most populous in the country with over 7.5 million residents according the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of statistics, as seen here. It’s no surprise that it also boasts the highest energy consumption of any state according to the latest report from the office of the chief economist which can be found here. New South Wales one led their world with their Greenhouse Gas reduction scheme, but this was abolished in 2012, so the state doesn’t currently have a renewable energy target. Despite this, the state is responsible for 27.4% of Australia’s emissions.
Dubbo is the solar centre for NSW, with over 4 thousand solar PV systems generating around 8.8MW.
New South Wales consumes over 1500 Petajoules (PJ) of energy per year, only 80 PJ comes from renewable resources, or a little over 5% of the total energy consumption. A petajoule is equivalent to just over 277,000 MWh of electricity.
- NSW contributes 7% of Australia’s total renewable energy output, but have 32% of the population
- 8% of homes have Solar PV installed
- 21% of Australia’s job in renewable energy are in NSW
Victoria: Investing in new large-scale projects
The fastest growing state population wise, Victoria is the second biggest consumer of electricity, but like NSW, the renewable component is tiny by comparison. From a total of over 1400 PJ of energy consumed only about 50 PJ comes from renewable sources, less than 4%.
- 12% of Australia’s renewable energy is generated in Victoria
- Victoria is responsible for 23.8% of Australia’s emissions, but is home to 25% of the population
- Since 2001, Victoria has contributed 25% of the electricity generated from all new large-scale project in the country
- 4% of home has a solar PV system
South Australia: Most wind farms
The lowest population of the mainland states, South Australia leads slightly in renewable energy over the other mainlanders, with almost 9% of the total 328.5 PJ coming from renewable energy sources. Despite having only 7% of the population, 16% of the nation’s jobs in renewable energies are in SA. Additionally, of all the new large-scale renewable projects since 2001, 29% of energy is generated in South Australia.
- SA have the third lowest per capita emissions in Australia: 18.07tCo2e per person
- They also have the most wind farm of any state – 40% of the countries wind energy
- 28% of SA’s electricity is supplied by wind farms
- 26% of households have solar PV systems, the highest in Australia
Queensland: Highest number of Solar PV systems
The Sunshine state fares slightly better than the other east coast states, with slightly more than 8% of its total 1318.6 PJ coming from renewable sources. QLD has abolished its renewable energy targets in 2012 following the change in government. Queensland is right behind the Northern Territory when it comes to emissions, representing 24% of Australia’s total emissions, for 20% of the population.
- Bundaberg is Queensland’s solar hot spot with over 8,000 installed solar PV systems.
- Queensland has the highest amount of solar PV systems in Australia
- Queensland is currently constructing the largest solar thermal project in Australia
- 31% of Australia’s renewable energy jobs are in QLD
Western Australia: Largest wind farm in the country
Once dubbed the State of Excitement, it’s clear that that enthusiasm does not stretch to renewable energy. Less than 2% of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources. The west also has the highest energy consumption per capita of any state or territory in Australia at 409 GJ per person annually.
- WA has the second highest per capita emissions at over 30tCO2e per person.
- WA has the largest wind farm in the country
- WA host 11% of Australia’s population, but account for 14% of emissions.
A low population means a low overall energy consumption, less than 100 PJ, but only about half a percent currently comes from renewable sources. Accounting for 1% of the total population, the NT is responsible for 2.7% of emissions. 5.1% of residents have solar PV systems, which can generate 15MW of power.
- The NT had the highest per capita emissions in Australia at 62.98tCO2e
- Solar is the main source of renewable energy in the NT
- Homeowners in NT get the best buy-back rates for their energy (2014)
- There are less than 100 jobs in the renewable sector
Australian Capital Territory: Lowest per capita emissions
The ACT has very good emission reduction targets according to the Climate Council, aiming for zero net emissions by 2060. They aim to do this using three renewable energies; Solar (12.9%), Biomass (3.3%) and wind (83.8%). That’s quite a way off, so here’s the figures for how they are doing now. ACT has 1.6% of the population, but produce 0.2% of Australia’s emissions. 11.7% of home has a solar PV system, which is in line with other states such as Tasmania, and New South Wales.
- ACT has the lowest per capita emissions in Australia
- In 2012, the ACT had the lowest emissions of any state at 1.3MtCo2e
- The ACT has a low level of heavy industry, which contributes to their low emissions
Tasmania: 93% of energy from renewable sources
The Apple Isle is the clear winner when it comes to renewable energy, with 93% of electricity generated coming from renewables in 2013, mainly hydroelectricity. The small population helps; they also have very low energy consumption per head at only 211 GJ a year.
- Tasmania makes up 2% of the Australian population, but has the capacity to generate 15% of Australia’s energy needs
- Tasmania offers 5% of the countries job in renewable energy
- 10% of dwellings have a solar PV system
The future of renewable energy
While opportunities exist in every state and territory for harnessing renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydroelectricity and tidal & wave sources, the current policy environment is highly restrictive in the renewable sector. Incentives for investment are lacking in all states and territories except South Australia, and while Tasmania’s current scorecard looks good, the potential for expanding existing hydroelectric installations is small. This means that in order to cope with increasing electrical demand, Tasmania will have to seek alternative renewable energy sources in order to maintain their lead.