Australia installed and built almost 1 gigawatt of new solar capacity last year but was easily shadowed by cloudy nations like the United Kingdom, which installed 4x as much – this is according to the report of REN21 Global Status for renewable energy as reported by SMH. Investment in new renewable energy and energy efficiency programs went up to a record $396B even as prices for most technologies like solar and wind went down. Growth also came despite the prices going down for rival fuel sources like oil and coal.
According to Arthouros Zervos, REN21 Chairman, renewables are now cost –competitive with fossil fuels in many markets and they are established around the world as mainstream energy sources. Globally, solar PV capacity added 50 gigawatts to total to 227 GW of capacity. Wind power rose and added 63 gigawatts to reach 433 gigawatts. This total ranked Australia 10th in the world and trailing nations not known for their sunshine like the United Kingdom, Germany, and South Korea. The United Kingdom added 3.7 gigawatts last year to reach about 9.1 gigawatts capacity or almost twice as Australia’s.
Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said that solar power is an area where Australia can give the United Kingdom a beating and with the investment confidence returning, they are hopeful that they will give them a run for their money this year. On the wind energy stage, Australia did not make it into the top 10 nations despite having good wind resources.
The country’s investment in large-scale renewable energy has slowed down in the past three years after the Abbott government began a review of the industry and later cut the renewable Energy Target for 2020of 41,000 gigawatt-hours to 33,000 gigawatt-hours with the support of the Labor Party. Without the support of the industry from the government, such renewable energy programs will cut the grants for research and projects for renewable energy technology.