Cities and countries around the world are seeing and working to meet the growing necessity to be more sustainable. Regions are being challenged with environmental problems and a diminished quality of life due to otherwise current practices.
Australia is an island continent that is seeing remarkable growth, while also experiencing a strain on its available resources. One of its primary environmental struggles is its current limited water supply. Linked to its current status as a water-stressed country, it has had to come to terms with the water consumption stemming from its use of coal as its main source of energy. In order to produce electricity, fuel has required far too much water from an already limited supply. In regards to coal use, Tim Buckley, director at the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, said, “Technology has moved on. Coal is not flexible. Renewables absolutely gut the viability of coal-fired power.”
The country intends to become more sustainable, continue efforts for alternative energy sources and reduce coal use overall. Buckley said, “Australia stands to be a massive exporter of renewable energy. The Australian wind and solar resource is second to none.” Unsurprisingly, since 2017 solar energy has accounted for over 46% of announced projects. Both solar and wind power have been deemed viable alternatives to coal because they do not require water to produce electricity. Although it is a water-stressed country, it also has the most average solar and wind energy potential according to Australia Institute’s New Climate & Energy Program. The renewable energy power generation comes from a mix of solar, wind, bioenergy and hydro. The territory and landscape are also two factors that a play a crucial role in boosting Australia’s energy production, as there is abundant land available.
By 2020, Australia aims to get to 33% renewable electricity. It has made significant improvements in even just the last few years with 2017 as a standout year. According to Leonard Quong, a Senior Analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “2017 was a breakout year for the Australian Clean Energy sector. Total investment in clean energy in Australia rose to a record USD 9 billion, smashing the previous record of USD 6.2 billion set in 2011.” To highlight the progress even further, David Parker, Clean Energy Regulator Chair, said, “In 2017, more than 1000 megawatts of renewable projects were completed and began generation, the biggest year ever for new build coming online. We expect 2018 and 2019 to be even bigger, with each year having more than double the new build completed compared to 2017.”
Australia has gained momentum and is making significant changes in regards to sustainability. According to the Clean Energy Council, the past year has set a record with over 50 projects started, committed or completed and this will make a major impact in the years to come. According to the website, “These projects will deliver over $10 billion in investment, 5,482 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity and create more than 6,141 direct jobs”. If the country continues on its current trajectory, its 2030 Climate Change Target can see some room for improvement, great efforts can be made to meet the 2030 Paris commitment, and the country (and world) can greatly benefit from its sustainability efforts.
Photo by Maik Jonietz