Renewable energy generated more electricity than brown coal during Australia’s summer for the first time in 2017-18, according to a new report by Green Energy Markets.
Continued growth in solar pushed renewable generation in Australia to just under 10,000 gigawatt hours between December 2017 and February 2018. With the Hazelwood plant knocked out of the system last year, brown coal’s output in the same period was just over 9,100 GWh.
Renewables produced 40% more than gas over the period and was exceeded only by black coal.
The report, commissioned by GetUp, found renewables were generating particularly large amounts of electricity when it was most needed, producing 32% more than brown coal during summer between 11am and 7pm, when demand peaks.
Coal in decline: an energy industry on life support
Solar in particular was working to support the system, on average producing more than Hazelwood was capable of producing between 9am and 5pm.
A further 5,000 megawatts of large-scale renewables projects was under construction in February, supporting 17,445 jobs.
GetUp’s campaign director, Miriam Lyons, said the latest renewable energy index showed renewables were keeping the lights on while coal became increasingly unreliable.
“Over summer renewables kept houses cool and lights on during peak demand times when people needed electricity most,” Lyons said. “Meanwhile dirty old coal plants are becoming increasingly unreliable in the heat.
“These ageing clunkers failed 36 times over summer.
“Clean energy rescued people from blackouts this summer. When the clapped-out Loy Yang coal plant tripped, South Australia’s giant Tesla battery reacted in milliseconds to keep the power on.
“It’s clear that a smart electricity grid based on a combination of renewable energy and storage is the best way to deliver clean, affordable energy for all Australians.”