In Australia, renewable energy is generated several ways. In 2019, Australia’s renewable energy production accounted for 55,093 gigawatt-hours (GWh), which came from:
Most types of renewable energy generate electricity either by turning a turbine or being directly converted into electricity through a process specific to that source.
In some cases, such as natural gas harvested from biofuel, it may be refined as a fuel source which is used by specific appliances designed to operate on that source of power, rather than electricity.
To help supply renewable power to the energy grid, electricity providers use ‘Large-scale Generation Certificates’. Providers purchase 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. If you use 6,000kWh of electricity in a year then your provider has to purchase 6,000kWh of renewable energy to be fed into the grid.
An independent government auditor checks to ensure that the amount of renewable electricity paid for is fed into the grid each year.
The money spent on renewable electricity each year ensures that investment in alternative green energy projects continues. This investment allows Australia’s renewable electricity generation capacity to increase over time. This means that your electricity may eventually become cheaper, and more people may be able to afford renewable options over time.
There are a number of reasons why renewable energy is important:
Australia is continuing 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 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year, and this target will remain in place until the RET ends in 2030.8
The states and territories in Australia are also working on increasing the amount of renewable energy they generate and use. Tasmania now runs on 100% renewable energy sourced in the state as of 27 November 2020.9
In most cases, you can simply get in touch with your energy provider to switch over to green energy options. In all states and territories in Australia, some providers can offer you electricity from renewable sources. Some providers offer as little as 10% of electricity to come from renewables. Others offer up to 100% of your energy needs from renewable sources. It’s worth checking with electricity providers before committing to a change and reading all 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 and Western Australia get more than 10 hours of sunlight per day on average,11 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 smaller 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 Quarterly Update of Australia’s Natural Greenhouse Gas Inventory: March 2020. Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian Government. 2020.
2 Solar PV and batteries. Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australian Government. 2020.
3 Renewable Energy Accreditation. GreenPower, National Green Power Steering Group. 2020.
4 Geothermal energy. Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Australian Government. 2020.
5 How the scheme works. Clean Energy Regulator, Australian Government. 2018.
6 Clean Energy Australia 2020. Clean Energy Council. 2020.
7 Renewable energy. Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Australian Government. 2020.
8 Renewable Energy Target scheme. Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australian Government. 2020.
9 Tasmania surges to 100% renewable energy. The Hon. Guy Barnett, Minister for Energy, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tasmanian Government. 2020.
10 Solar PV and batteries. Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australian Government. 2020.
11 Sunshine: Average Daily Sunshine Hours. Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Government. 2005.