Current NEG ‘investment cliff’ for renewables

The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program has released the latest National Energy Emissions Audit electricity update (The Audit*) for July 2018.

The Audit shows that current NEG modelling will effectively create an investment cliff for the otherwise booming renewables sector, with no investment in further renewable energy generation after 2021.

Key findings show:

  • Renewables reached record shares of grid generation, with hydro, wind and solar accounting for almost half of all power generation in southern states during July.
  • During July, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania operated well with a 44% share of renewable generation. Wholesale energy prices in Victoria and Tasmania reached their lowest levels since December 2016, thanks in large part to renewable energy generation.
  • This growing share of renewable energy generation continues to push NEM emissions down by displacing coal fired generation, a trend that is expected to continue for several years.
  • Wind generation also hit a record high, to the point where excess wind generation was exported to NSW without needing to import any ‘baseload’ coal generated power to offset wind variations.
  • The latest Energy Security Board report on the NEG confirms the Government expects no new wind or solar farms to be built after 2020-21, modelling a rapid decline in an otherwise booming, renewable energy industry.

“Victoria has been reaping the benefits of its ambitious renewable energy target, recording record levels of wind generation,” says Dr Hugh Saddler, author of the report.

“In July the southern states of Australia were exporting wind power to NSW, without the need to import any black coal generation from NSW, even when the wind wasn’t blowing.

“Given this, it is very concerning that the current NEG modelling shows no investment in further renewable energy generation after 2021.

“Even more problematic will be the need to revitalise the renewables industry a decade later because we will need to replace the many coal fired plants commissioned in the 1980s, which will come to the end of their 50 year lifespans.

“Renewables in Australia and around the world are growing – not shrinking – this should be reflected in the NEG and in Australia’s energy policy as we look to the future.” 

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