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Renewable energy mix over summer far greater than gas: report

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Renewable energy sources contributed six times more power to Australia’s electricity grid over the 2020-21 summer than gas, according to new research which calls the federal government’s gas expansion plan into question.

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The Climate Council says 30 per cent of energy in the National Electricity Market during the 2020-21 summer came from renewables while less than five per cent came from gas power generation.

The council said demand for gas power dropped by more than a third in the 2020-21 summer compared to the previous summer, while demand for renewable energy generation lifted by 20 per cent.

Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter said renewables were outperforming gas power stations in Australia and should be prioritised.

The federal government is planning for a gas-based economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and invested $53 million in the October budget on new projects across Australia’s gas supply chain.

Reducing the price of gas and increasing supply is central to the government’s plan, even flagging direct support if private companies do not choose to invest.

Labor’s draft policy platform also backs gas as a key part of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and supports new gas projects.

Baxter said such policy positions were misguided.

“Our existing gas power stations are struggling to compete with clean, reliable and affordable energy and storage,” he said in a statement.

“As the sunniest and one of the windiest places on the planet, Australia should be cashing in on its renewable advantage and, in doing so, rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions … it’s a win-win.”

Some seven gigawatts of renewable energy capacity was installed in Australia in 2020, driven by a boom in household solar uptake.

-with AAP

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