The state of South Australia leads the country in the use of non-hydro renewables, deriving almost a third of its of its power supply from wind and solar.
According to the latest quarterly Carbon Emissions Index (CEDEX) report, released by infrastructure consultancy pitt&sherry,wind power alone accounted for 27 per cent of generation in South Australia in the year to September 2013.
This amount was well ahead of coal-fired power generation, which according to CEDEX made a contribution of only 16 per cent.
Gas made the biggest contribution to South Australia’s power generation at 45 per cent, with the remaining 12 per cent sourced from net interconnector imports.
The CEDEX figures do not include the contribution made by rooftop solar panels, which likely made a major contribution to South Australia’s power usage given that 19 per cent of households in the state are equipped with solar installations.
Hugh Sherry, principal consultant with pitt&sherry, says the contribution made by solar photovoltaics is likely around four per cent, bringing the total amount of power generated in South Australia using renewables to around 30 per cent.
This means South Australia is well ahead of schedule in its efforts to meet a renewable energy production target of 33 per cent by the end of the decade.
A recent report by Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report indicates that that solar power generation is set to supply approximately 8.9 per cent of South Australia’s annual energy use by 2022-23, more than doubling compared to current levels.
The CEDEX data indicates that Australia as a whole is achieving major progress in reducing energy usage and raising efficiency. For the year to September 2013, overall electricity demand in Australia had fallen by seven per cent compared to its peak in the year to December 2008, while demand has declined in every state which is part of the country’s National Electricity Market with the exception of Tasmania, where it edged higher by a mere 0.3 per cent.
The release of the CEDEX reports coincides with a new survey from Price Waterhouse Coopers indicating that senior utilities executives throughout the region anticipate “complete transformation or important changes” in their business model by 2030 as a result of major paradigm shifts in energy markets.
Mark Coughlin, PwC’s Australian utilities leader, said a chief driver of radical change in the industry would be renewable energy, an area where “sources will become increasingly affordable and competition more intense than in the past.”