Media Releases | 16th May, 2011

Australia’s renewable energy share declining since 1960 – Report

Monday, 16 May 2011

New research released today by Environment Victoria shows that renewable energy has fallen over the past 50 years as a proportion of Australia’s total electricity generation.

The report “Australia’s Electricity Generation Mix 1960-2009” shows that renewable energy provided 19 percent of the nation’s electricity in 1960 but this fell to just 7 per cent by 2008.

During the same period Australia’s overall energy use grew dramatically so that the actual output of coal power increased by 1200 percent while renewable energy grew by just 450 percent.

The analysis, the first of its type, was completed by Green Energy Markets for Environment Victoria. Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:

“Sadly, we’ve made little progress in cleaning up our electricity supply over the past 50 years, with the growth of polluting coal generation far outpacing the growth of renewable energy. This is a shocking performance given the strength of Australia’s renewable energy resources.

“This trend has continued over the past decade despite an array of state and national climate change programs.

“What this research clearly shows is that without a price on carbon the Australian economy will continue with pollution-as-usual.”

The report also includes more detailed analysis of electricity generation in National Electricity Market states over the past decade.

This shows that between 2001 and 2009 the amount of electricity coming from coal grew by almost ten percent, and annual greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power increased by 14 million tonnes.

“For all of the hand-wringing about climate change over the past decade we’ve seen massive growth in emissions from coal generation while renewable energy has flat-lined.

“This underlines the need to ensure that some of the revenue raised through a price on pollution is used to replace our dirtiest power stations, like Hazelwood and Yallourn in Victoria, and fast-track renewable energy development.”

“Unless existing coal-fired power stations are retired it will be impossible to reduce our emissions and clean up our economy” he concluded.

Download the report here

For interview contact:

Mark Wakeham, Campaigns Director on 0439 700 501