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Renewable energy outshines brown coal

Renewable energy generated more power than brown coal, gas or oil during Australia’s long hot summer.

The 9,880 gigawatt-hours (GWh) from renewables during the summer months (1 December to 28 February) exceeded that from brown coal by 8% and gas by 40% in Australia’s main grids.

Even more impressively, Australia’s renewables delivered much of this power when it was needed most – during the peak demand period in the middle of the day to early evening.

For the National Electricity Market, renewables delivered an average of 5,610 megawatts during the 11am to 7pm (NEM Time) peak demand period over summer.

This was 32% greater than power from brown coal and 78% higher than gas over this critical period of high demand for electricity.

In Victoria’s first summer without the Hazelwood Power Station solar alone more than stepped up to the challenge.

During working hours, solar generation smashed the maximum output from Hazelwood the previous summer.

GetUp Campaign Director Miriam Lyons said the latest Renewable Energy Index showed renewables were keeping the lights on while coal became increasingly unreliable.

“Over summer renewables kept houses cool and lights on during peak demand times when people needed electricity most. Meanwhile dirty old coal plants are becoming increasingly unreliable in the heat. These ageing clunkers failed 36 times over summer!

“Clean energy rescued people from blackouts this summer. When the clapped-out Loy Yang coal plant tripped, South Australia’s giant Tesla battery reacted in milliseconds to keep the power on.

“It’s clear that a smart electricity grid based on a combination of renewable energy and storage is the best way to deliver clean, affordable energy for all Australians. Malcolm Turnbull’s do-nothing approach with the National Energy Guarantee will slam the brakes on renewables when we need as much investment as possible.

“It’s time for Turnbull to stop propping up dirty old coal and get on with delivering cleaner, cheaper energy for all.”

REI Statistics: Renewables at work

  • In February renewables made up 17.6% of the electricity generated in Australia’s main grids
  • Enough renewable energy over February to power 7.8 million homes
  • Renewable energy avoided 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 pollution in February
  • Renewable energy avoided 8.3 million cars’ worth of CO2 pollution in February
  • Renewable projects under construction created enough work to employ 17,445 people
  • Rooftop solar employed 5,674 people in February