CEC clean energy report profiles a year of determined growth

Looking back on 2020, the Clean Energy Council describes an industry that refused to let a global pandemic stand in its way.

Despite the angst and associated economic turmoil of a global pandemic, 2020 turned out to be a surprisingly good year for renewable energy in Australia. In fact, it was pretty fantastic.

In its annual roundup of the sector, the Clean Energy Council pointed to record connections for wind and rooftop solar and the acceleration of storage as evidence that the transition of the National Electricity Market to renewables is set in determined motion.

In just four years, clean energy generation in the grid has increased by 10 percentage points, from 17% in 2017 to 27% last year.

“This represents a massive transformation that makes Australia’s electricity system cheaper, more reliable and, most importantly, cleaner,” says CEC chief executive Kane Thornton in the Clean Energy Australia Report 2021. “But the best news is that the shift is showing no sign of slowing down.”

Small-scale solar enjoyed a fourth-straight record-breaking year, with more than 3GW of capacity added in 2020. The average system increased to 8.04kW, up from 7.72kW in 2019.

Large-scale wind and solar saw 32 projects completed last year, worth almost 2GW in new capacity. Utility-scale solar made up 893MW and wind 1,097MW of the total, a new record for wind.

By the end of the year 76 large-scale wind and solar projects were under construction, worth more 8GW.

Completions around the country included the 226MW Murra Warra Wind Farm (Stage 1), the 184MW Warradarge Wind Farm, the 148MW Cattle Hill Wind Farm, 132MW Mt Gellibrand Wind Farm (Stage 1), 126MW Lincoln Gap Wind Farm (Stage 1), 110MW Bungala Solar Farm (Stage 2) and the 105MW Nevertire Solar Farm.

It was also a breakaway year for storage of all sizes, with 23,796 residential batteries installed in 2020 and 16 utility-scale batteries making 595MW of capacity under construction at year’s end.

Clear policy signals sent by some state governments also cleared the way for future growth, including the NSW government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap which targets 12GW of new transmission capacity and the construction of three renewable energy zones.

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