Australia’s fossil fuel share of electricity generation is higher than that of our peers.
The following chart is ugly, in my next life I hope to come back with more drawing ability and a better sense of design, but its also ugly for Australians who care about doing our bit in the 21st century.
The data are for Jan-July 2017 cumulative for selected countries and regions. i.e. it’s basically right up to date. It shows that Australia has the highest share of fossil fuel generation in the selected sample of countries.
Most of the rest of the sample shows a big increase in wind & PV production. For instance in the USA as a whole (not shown) wind & PV cumulative production is up about 35% this year so far.
The graph also shows that our share (which includes rooftop PV) of wind & PV is one of the lowest. To be clear the IEA stats lump other in with wind & PV in their monthly data and so the chart marginally overstates the wind & PV share for the European countries selected. But we don’t think that makes much difference.
None of these other countries or grids seem to feel there is any difficulty, yet, with reliability. However its also fair to say that discussions about dispatchability and other market design related issues in many of these regions is on the increase.
It’s also fair to point out that transmission interconnectors more easily facilitate more renewables. But then we could easily build some more of them. Even the rainy UK is well ahead of Australia
California and Spain at 28% and 24% respectively are more than 3 times bigger in wind & PV than Australia and with comparable grid sizes.
As the electricity price in virtually every country and region is lower than in Australia and as the renewable energy share is higher in almost all of them, so its clearly not renewables alone that is responsible for high prices. But anyone reading this knew that already.
To be sure I could select some countries in Eastern Europe and in Asia that are worse than Australia, but I like to think we are better than that. We are wealthy country with great renewable resources and we can and will do better.
David Leitch is a regular contributor to Renew Economy. He is principal at ITK, specialising in analysis of electricity, gas and decarbonisation drawn from 33 years experience in stockbroking research & analysis for UBS, JPMorgan and predecessor firms.