Clean ambitions

3 May 2017

Australia's recent steps towards a cleaner future include the Emissions Reduction Fund's fifth auction and a progress report on the large-scale 2020 Renewable Energy Target.

According to a new report* by the Clean Energy Regulator, the 2020 Renewable Energy Target remains achievable provided the current pace of investment continues throughout 2017.

An unprecendented number of new projects were announced in 2016, the agency said. Compared to the previous year, capacity of new projects increased fivefold to more than 2000 megawatts.

This momentum has continued into 2017, with a further 1074.5 megawatt of renewable energy projects announced in the first three months of the year.

Solar projects are increasingly driving this trend, which is also supported through small-scale solar generation: more than 2.6 million Australian homes have now roof-top solar installed, generating or displacing 10 million megawatt hours of electricity.

*The Tracking towards 2020: Encouraging renewable energy in Australia was tabled in Parliament 3 May 2017

Auctioned abatement

The Clean Energy Regulator's fifth auction under the Emissions Reduction Fund program has resulted in 31 contracts for 11.25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas abatment at an average price of $11.82.

ERF: five auctions, 435 projects funded, of which 80% are in Queensland or New South Wales Infographic: Clean Energy Regulator

However, the volume of contracts was much lower than in the previous four auctions, and they contribute just 6% to the total abatement of 189 million tonnes purchased in the five auctions. This is a sign of a maturing market, the agency said.

As in previous auctions, the funded projects overwhelmingly proposed two methods of abatement, together accounting for 10.6 million tonnes (94%) of the contracted emissions reduction:

  1. vegetation (8.53 million tonnes) - includes includes reforestation and revegatation, or preventing clearing); and
  2. landfill and waste (2.04 million tonnes) - includes alternative waste treatments, the reduction of landfill gas, and the production and destruction of biogas generated from the treatment of wastewater.

By comparison, projects addressing energy efficiency or industrial fugitives contribute only 0.25 million tonnes (2.2%) to the total contracted abatement.

The fund has so far provided $2.2 billion for 435 projects (387 contracts), with around $300 million still available for future purchases.

Notably, 80% of the contracted projects are located in just two states: NSW (190 projects) and QLD (158 projects).

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