South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT are leading the field in renewable energy, while NSW and Victoria are lagging behind, according to a new report from the Climate Council.

The Australian Renewable Energy Race: which states are winning and losing report also shows the degree to which sub-national policies in the different states are driving or retarding investment in renewable energy projects, with Victoria declared the state with the worst policy settings for encouraging renewable energy.

It states that while SA and the ACT have retained emissions reduction targets, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory currently have no emissions reduction targets or policies in place, and Tasmania has abandoned its 2020 emissions reduction goal and abolished the state’s Climate Action Council, but retains the state’s 2050 target, which is set in legislation. NSW, while not setting emissions reduction targets, did put in place a Renewable Energy Action Plan in 2013 in support of the state meeting its share of the national Renewable Energy Target.

“Victoria has no targets or policies to attract renewable energy,” the report said. “It also has planning rules that actively discourage new wind farm developments through extensive ‘no go’ areas and veto right for landowners within two kilometres of a wind turbine. It is clear that while other states stifle advances in renewable energy uptake, South Australia and the ACT – with progressive renewable energy policies and targets –- are winning the Australian renewable energy race.”

In addition to new utility-scale wind and solar projects, South Australia leads in terms of the percentage of households with solar photovoltaic systems at 26 per cent of dwellings, while the NT has the lowest percentage, with solar PV on only 5.1 per cent of dwellings. The report said this is “surprising given the high cost of retail electricity, good solar insolation and often remote high cost alternative electricity supply options”.

While the report shows Queensland has the highest number of jobs in renewable energy, with 6545 jobs, and the most installed domestic solar PV capacity at 1151 megawatts plus the highest amount of power generated from landfill gas and biomass generation, overall it has the lowest percentage of electricity use derived from renewable at just six per cent.

Tasmania has the nation’s highest proportion of energy derived from renewables at 93 per cent, though the majority is derived from 20th century hydro-electric generation capacity, and there has been only 344 MW of renewable energy capacity installed since 2001 – the lowest rate of new renewable investment in the country.

Download the full report here.

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