Australian large-scale renewables under construction passes 5 GW

Australia’s large-scale solar boom is well-and-truly underway. This was reflected in the latest Green Energy Markets’ (GEM) Renewable Energy Index.

The report shows that 2.37 GW of large-scale solar is currently being built, alongside 2.66 GW of wind.

The leading state for development is Queensland with 2.11 GW, followed by Victoria (1.28 GW), NSW and ACT combined (928 MW), and South Australia (578 MW). Of the most populous states, WA is the laggard with only 37 MW of large scale renewables under construction, being overshadowed by Tasmania (112 MW).

GEM found the large-scale segment boom is supporting close to 17,500 jobs, up from around 15,000 in December 2017.

Solar is also demonstrating its value to Australia’s electricity networks. The latest GEM figures reveal that over the summer months in which electricity demand is highest, solar more than compensated for Victoria’s 1.6 GW Hazelwood coal-fired power plant – which was closed in March 2017 and has become a subject of considerable controversy.

GEM found that between 9am and 5pm, solar’s average output exceeded Hazelwood’s maximum generation over the previous summer by 48% between the 4-5pm peak, and up to 162% at midday.

Rooftop solar installation activity is also remaining robust. GEM found that 17,252 systems were installed in February, representing 117 MW of capacity. Job creation in the rooftop sector also remains strong, with almost 5,675 people employed in installation and distribution.

Across all renewables, GEM found that they are second only to black coal in terms of generation-by-fuel source. Renewables contributed 9.88 GWh of generation over the summer months, including 3.74 GWh in February alone, beating brown coal by 8% and gas by 40%.

For the month of February renewables comprised 17.6% of electricity in Australia’s major grids or enough to power 7.8 million homes.