South Australia is leading the nation in solar and wind energy investment, while Victoria and New South Wales fall well behind, a new report has confirmed.
The report, released on Tuesday by the Climate Council, analyses how each Australian state is tracking on renewables investment, and comes to the predictably dismal conclusion that South Australia is pretty much going it alone, against a backdrop of disappearing and downsized state and federal clean energy policies.
“South Australia is the most desirable market in Australia for investment,” says the report, pointing to the $5.5 billion invested in renewable energy in the state since 2004, and the recently announced plans to lift its renewable energy target to 50 per cent by 2025.
The report notes that South Australia sources over 36 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources – and sometimes much more – with one-quarter of the state’s homes now sporting rooftop solar panels.
It is also winning the large-scale renewables stakes, having installed more utility-scale capacity since 2001 than any other state.
The ACT – whose solar auctions scheme recently won a top environmental gong – was also found to be “punching above its weight,” with effective emissions reduction targets and a target of 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
Elsewhere, however, the picture was not so rosy, with no other state expanding its renewable energy targets, and Victoria and NSW moving from “leaders to laggards” in Australia’s renewable energy race, with NSW removing a previous goal to limit greenhouse gas emissions and Victoria scrapping its own renewables target.
“Despite having 57 per cent of the population, Victoria and NSW only have 40 per cent of renewable energy jobs,” says the report.
Victoria, despite boasting the country’s largest windfarm (Macarthur), won the dubious honour of “worst policy environment for renewables in Australia,” for the Coalition government’s efforts to “actively discourage renewable energy, thus drying up investment in renewable energy and costing the state an estimated $4 billion in lost investment and 3,000 jobs.
Victoria’s electricity comprises only 12 per cent of Australia’s new renewable energy capacity and NSW 7 per cent. And NSW is last among the states for new per capita investment in renewable energy.
NSW, which has the largest emissions of any state or territory at 148.9m tonnes a year, has the lowest per capita investment in renewables of any state. Only 599 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy has been installed in NSW since 2001.