The Federal Government has released the 2021 Australian Energy Statistics, showing that renewables are increasing as a share of generation in 2020, but coal and gas continue to provide the majority of generation.

The statistics for electricity generation shows that 24 per cent of Australia’s electricity came from renewable energy in 2020, up from 21 per cent in 2019.

This increase is driven by a boom in solar installation. Solar is now the largest source of renewable energy at 9 per cent of total generation, up from 7 per cent in 2019, with one in four Australian homes having solar – the highest uptake in the world.

The large uptake of solar helped contribute to the record 7GW of new renewable capacity installed last year, confirming Australia as a renewable energy world leader.

But according to the Federal Government, the pace of growth in renewables highlights the important role that more traditional and reliable sources of energy play in the system. 

This underscores the need for continued essential generation from dispatchable sources to balance and complement the high levels of variable supply entering the energy system to deliver affordable, reliable power for consumers.

Importantly, gas-fired generation grew in Queensland and the Northern Territory 2020, with overall generation remaining relatively stable in recent years.

Coal also continued to be the backbone of our electricity supply, representing 54 per cent of total generation in 2020 and playing an essential role as a stable, baseload source of affordable and reliable power.

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said the Australian Government is ensuring Australia’s record level of renewable energy is complemented by dispatchable generation. 

“My focus is ensuring Australia’s energy system remains reliable and affordable for all Australians,” Mr Taylor said.

“The Morrison Government is taking strong action to stabilise the grid and get the energy generation balance right to ensure Australians can access the reliable and affordable power they need, when they need it.

“We are a renewable energy powerhouse, and this is something we should be proud of, but renewables need reliable generation to back them up and maintain pressure on prices when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

“Reliable sources of energy, like coal and gas, will continue to be needed to keep the lights on and deliver 24/7 power for households and businesses as more and more renewables enter the system.”

Ensuring the design of the future National Electricity Market (NEM) is fit for purpose is key to the delivery of reliable, secure and affordable electricity to Australian households and businesses.  

The Post-2025 Market Design, which is currently open for public response, is the most critical energy reform governments have been tasked to deliver by the National Cabinet.

The Federal Government said it is backing new generation, transmission and storage projects across Australia to balance and complement record levels of renewables entering the energy system, including:

  • Delivering a new 660MW open cycle gas turbine at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley through a $600 million equity commitment to Snowy Hydro 
  • Delivering a 2,000MW pumped hydro expansion to Snowy Hydro scheme
  • Supporting all major priority transmission projects identified in AEMO’s Integrated System Plan, including Project Energy Connect and Marinus Link, the second interconnector needed to turn Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation vision into reality
  • Establishing the Underwriting New Generation Investments program to support new firm generation capacity and increased competition
  • Establishing a $1 billion Grid Reliability fund to be administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation
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