Energy Analysis Finds Renewables Cut Australia's Emissions More Than Covid

November 4, 2020

In Australia, a record renewable electricity generation of 26.5% of five of the total nations states total consumption was recorded at the end of September. This analysis was conducted by Hugh Saddler, an energy consultant and Australian National University honorary associate professor. The analysis showed continued growth in renewable energy generation, and coinciding drops in emissions. Carbon emissions due to electricity generation, gas consumption, and transportation in the last 12 months fell by around 4.6% - or 14 million metric tons less of carbon in the atmosphere. The observed reductions took place across five states, Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and account for nine million consumers.

While a significant amount of reductions resulted from less frequent travel due to Covid, a higher proportion of reductions cam from wind and solar power displacing coal in the energy market. Despite changes to travel patterns, the pandemic did not significantly alter electricity consumption in these areas. The findings include record breaking numbers for solar rooftop generation demand for September, while Saddler predicts that renewables' share of the energy blend will continue breaking records in October and November.

Richie Merzian, the Australia Institute’s climate and energy program director, cites changing technologies and attitudes as the basis of this shift, saying "Renewables in Australia are now cheaper and more popular than fossil fuels, and we expect a lot more renewables coming on line soon." These findings suggest that conversion to renewable power in other countries can improve emissions in a similar fashion, with renewable energy dominating the share in reductions compared to Covid. Richie continued saying “This is just the start ... to really nail Australia’s emissions, you need to electrify everything with renewables.”

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