NSW Set To Fall Short Of Climate Targets But Victoria On Track

Sydney Morning HeraldNicole Hasham

NSW and Queensland appear set to fall short of their self-imposed targets for cutting greenhouse gas pollution and phasing out fossil fuels, as responsibility for climate action in the electricity sector increasingly falls to the states.
But analysis by research and advisory group Green Energy Markets found Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are on track to hit their climate goals.
NSW and Queensland must make up ground to meet their climate targets in the electricity sector, analysis has found. Credit: Michele Mossop
Electricity is considered the most cost-effective sector of the economy in which to slash greenhouse gas pollution, largely because zero-emission wind and solar technology already exists.
However, Australia's renewable energy target peaks in 2020 and since the collapse of the National Energy Guarantee last year, the Morrison government has not had a major policy to cut emissions in the sector. This leaves state policies as the key driver of investment in renewable energy generation.
Green Energy Markets examined progress on climate targets by the five eastern-most states that make up the national electricity market.
It found the most populous state, NSW, was not on pace to meet its target of net-zero emissions from the electricity sector by 2050.
On current trends, renewables would comprise 28 per cent of NSW's total electricity use by 2030, based on expected rooftop solar uptake and new wind and solar projects. This was well below the 46 per cent renewables share needed by 2030 if NSW was to meet its 2050 target, the report said.
NSW needs almost 5000 megawatts of new renewable energy projects over the next decade to bridge the gap.
Green Energy Markets director Tristan Edis said there had been commitments to construct 2800 megawatts of renewables projects in NSW over the past three years, so the state's catch-up task was "readily achievable" by 2030.
The Queensland Labor government wants renewables to make up 50 per cent of the electricity mix by 2030. However, the state is currently tracking towards a 29 per cent renewables share, based on existing wind and solar commitments and expected rooftop solar growth.
Hydro Tasmania's Devils Gate Dam spill. The state is tracking well to meet its target for 100 per cent renewable energy, including hydro power, by 2022.

If all states achieved their targets, enough construction jobs would be created to employ 32,000 people for a year, the analysis showed.
Victoria was already close to achieving its goal of 40 per cent electricity generation from renewable sources by 2025, the report found. It required just 2000 megawatts of new projects to reach its target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.
South Australia was on track to meet its goal that renewables comprise 73.5 per cent of electricity consumption by 2030, and Tasmania did not need any new projects to reach its 100 per cent renewables goal by 2022.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said the state was “reducing emissions at one of the fastest rates in Australia”.
“The government is supporting record investment in solar and wind and, in the last five years, energy generation from these sources has tripled in NSW,” she said.
Between 2018 and 2022 the NSW government will spend $1.4 billion to drive investment in renewable energy, emerging technology and climate action.
Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the Palaszczuk government was on track to meet its 50 per cent renewable target by 2030, citing a recent report by the Clean Energy Council that described the state as "the renewable energy construction capital of Australia".
"Despite the lack of any coherent or consistent energy policy from the commonwealth government, Queensland continues to embrace a renewable future," Dr Lynham said, adding that the states "have been left alone to do the heavy lifting on tackling climate change".


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