May 30 (Renewables Now) - The Australian renewable energy sector had a record year on many fronts in 2017, industry body the Clean Energy Council said today, adding for instance 1.1 GW of rooftop solar, which eclipses the previous high in 2012.
Sixteen large-scale renewable energy projects totalling about 700 MW were brought online during the year. Total installed large-scale solar capacity reached 450 MW, up from only 34 MW at the end of 2014, while total wind capacity increased by 547 MW in 2017 to 4,816 MW.
The body said that 2017 is "just a glimpse of the unprecedented level of activity expected in the next couple of years."
At the end of the year, more than 50 large-scale wind and solar projects were under construction or slated to start in the near future. Representing investment of AUD 10 billion (USD 7.5bn/EUR 6.5bn), these projects will bring more than 5,300 MW of capacity and 5,750 jobs, according to the the Clean Energy Australia Report 2018.
"After a decade of stops and starts, 2017 was the biggest year for the industry since the iconic Snowy Hydro Scheme was finished more than half a century ago," said Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton.
Key takeaways from the report also include a tripling of household battery additions to 20,789 units in 2017 from 6,750 the previous year. In 2017, 12% of the 172,000 household solar power systems installed featured a battery, compared to 5% the year before.
Nevertheless, the renewables' share in Australia's electricity fell slightly to 17% from 17.3% in 2016, which was due to lower hydro generation because of reduced rainfall. For the first time, wind and hydro provided almost equal amounts of electricity and each accounted for 5.7% of total national electricity generation.
Thornton said there are enough projects in the system to achieve the 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET). "With the 2020 target now in hand, the whole energy sector is looking for policy certainty that will enable it to continue to invest far beyond 2020," he also said.
(AUD 1 = USD 0.754/EUR 0.649)