WA ‘right at the back of the pack’ in renewable energy race

Updated October 16, 2018 22:24:11

A new Climate Council report has found despite 27 per cent of West Australian households having solar panels installed, the state is lagging far behind the rest of the country in its renewable energy generation.

Key Points:

  • WA performs poorly on renewable energy scorecard, despite big solar uptake
  • It is the only state or territory yet to commit to a renewable energy target
  • Climate Council says WA’s inaction could be dangerous for the state

The report, first released in 2014, rates how states and territories are tracking in their transitions to renewable energy sources, with WA found to have fallen far behind.

The Climate Council’s Greg Bourne, a former president of BP Australasia, said the latest report found WA generated just 7.5 per cent of its energy from renewable sources in 2017.

“The ACT, Tasmania, South Australia are well ahead of the pack,” Mr Bourne said.

“Queensland is somewhere in the middle but West Australia — unfortunately I’m a West Australian — is right at the back of the pack.”

Around one in four WA households have solar panels — the third highest figure in the country.

However Mr Bourne said WA was the only state or territory yet to commit to a renewable energy target.

“Every single state now has got either a renewable energy target or a net zero emissions target. Western Australia has neither of those,” he said.

“The old phrase about ‘what gets measured, gets done’ is really, really key.

“And so state-by-state, territory-by-territory, people have put in targets and once those targets are in there they get translated into doing stuff.”

No plans for state target: McGowan

But despite the Climate Council’s calls to the State Government to get on board, Premier Mark McGowan said it was an issue for the Federal Government to resolve.

“We have very strong policies about renewable energy, to secure as much renewable energy in Western Australia as possible,” he said.

“So we don’t have any plans to put in place a state target.”

WA ‘exposed to ravages of climate change’

Professor Andrew Stock, a Climate Council councillor, said it was a short-sighted response.

“The problem with not setting a target, not having a policy, is you’re losing opportunities,” he said.

“Today in Australia there’s $15 billion of investment going into renewables and storage — over 10,000 jobs.

“West Australia … with 10 or 11 per cent of the national population … is getting a one per cent share of that investment and that new job creation.

“Why not be part of the opportunity and capture it, rather than let it pass you by?”

Professor Stock said inaction could be particularly dangerous for the state.

“In the longer term Western Australia is one of the most exposed states to the ravages of climate change,” he said.

“Already water is a scarce commodity in the south-west. It’s not going to get any better, it’s likely to get worse.

“So all states and territories have to step up, along with the Federal Government, to set targets and policies to make energy cleaner at the source.”

Both Mr Bourne and Professor Stock praised Alkimos Beach, a residential development north of Perth, where it is mandatory for all households to have solar panels.

The project, a joint venture between LandCorp and Lendlease, is also running a trial with Synergy, in which around 60 homes are linked up to a huge community battery that stores solar power “virtually”.

“In the longer term renewables are the cheapest form of new electricity generation and once it’s installed you get the energy for free,” said Professor Stock.

“So yes, there are some transition challenges to be worked through commercially and for governments, particularly the one in Western Australia, but if you look to the long term, renewable energy is not only clean, it’s cheap.”

Western Power said in a statement it was providing connection opportunities to eight renewable energy projects across WA.

Topics: alternative-energy, solar-energy, wind-energy, climate-change, wa, alkimos-6038, australia

First posted October 16, 2018 22:10:05