As the name suggests, it’s a source of power that won’t run out. These sources also produce less harmful emissions or even none at all, making them an attractive alternative to hydrocarbons like oil and coal if you’re concerned about the environment.
We’ve broken down the benefits of renewable energy and the different types available in Australia.
The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is an Australian Government scheme that plays a central role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by helping green electricity become a more accessible part of Australia’s energy industry. Green electricity is that which is produced from clean, renewable energy sources as opposed to fossil fuels.
Green energy plans for customers, offered by many electricity retailers, source such electricity or help support the renewable energy industry. The Clean Energy Regulator noted that the RET is broken down into two parts:
For example, if you add solar panels to your home, you could be eligible to receive a small-scale technology certificate that energy retailers and other entities are required to purchase off you.
Eligible green technologies include hydro systems, wind turbines, solar water heaters, air-source heat pumps and solar PV panels.6
In Australia, renewable energy contributed as much as 32.5% of total electricity generation in 2021.7 Australia’s renewable energy production accounted for 74,679 gigawatt hours (GWh), which came from:
To help supply renewable power to the energy grid, electricity retailers use large-scale generation certificates, which involve retailers purchasing electricity from companies who generate it.
When you opt to purchase GreenPower from renewable sources, you’ll typically have a choice between how much of your power you want from green energy. For example, you may choose a plan that has 100% green energy, so if you use 6,000kWh of electricity in a year, your retailer must purchase 6,000kWh of renewable energy to be fed into the grid.
An independent government auditor checks that the amount of renewable electricity paid for is fed into the grid each year.
Each year, the money spent on renewable electricity ensures that investment in alternative green energy projects continues. This investment allows Australia’s renewable electricity generation capacity to increase over time. As interest and development into renewable energy grows, more people may be able to afford renewable options over time.
There are a number of reasons why renewable energy is important:8
Australia continues to increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the country as a part of the RET. According to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australia has met its 2020 target of increasing renewable energy output by 33,000 GWh a year. This target will remain in place until the RET ends in 2030.9
The states and territories in Australia are also working on increasing the amount of renewable energy they generate and use. TAS now runs on 100% renewable energy, all of which was sourced in the state as of November 2020. 10
If you’re looking to make the energy transition to renewables, in most cases you can simply get in touch with your energy retailer to switch over to green energy options. There are some retailers throughout the states and territories in Australia that offer you electricity from renewable sources.
Some retailers offer as little as 10% of your electricity to come from renewables, while others offer up to 100% of your energy needs from renewable sources. It’s worth checking with electricity retailers before committing to a change and reading the fine print before signing up.
We’ve discussed why you might want to switch to renewable electricity, but there are drawbacks. Here are a few things to consider before making a move to green energy:
For example, parts of the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA) get more than nine hours of sunlight per day on average,12 which means solar panels generate more energy in these locations compared to other areas in Australia. Additionally, longer days mean you can have more solar power generated compared to shorter days.
Renewable energy is significantly better for the environment and, in many circumstances, it’s cheaper in the long run than traditional sources of electricity.
After taking these points into account and weighing up the pros and cons, you’ll be better able to determine if you should make the switch to green energy.
1 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quarterly Update: September 2021. Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. Australian Government. Accessed May 2022.
2 Section 1: Why install a solar electricity system at home? Solar Panel (PV) Buyers Guide. Solar Victoria, Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning, Australian Government. Last reviewed April 2022. Accessed May 2022.
3 Renewable Energy Accreditation. GreenPower, National Green Power Steering Group. Accessed May 2022.
4 Offshore Wind Energy. Department of Energy, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian Government. Updated March 2022. Accessed May 2022.
5 Geothermal energy. Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Australian Government. 2020.
6 Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. Clean Energy Regulator, Australian Government. Updated May 2022. Accessed May 2022.
7 Clean Energy Australia Report 2022. Clean Energy Council. Accessed May 2022
8 Renewable energy. Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Australian Government. Accessed May 2022.
9 Renewable Energy Target. Clean Energy Council. Accessed May 2022.
10 Tasmania surges to 100% renewable energy. The Hon. Guy Barnett, Minister for Energy, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tasmanian Government. 2020. Accessed May 2022.
11 Solar PV and batteries. Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australian Government. Access May 2022.
12 Sunshine: Average Daily Sunshine Hours. Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Government. 2005. Accessed May 2022.