Renewables to generate a fifth of Australia's electricity by 2020

Green energy revenues in Australia and New Zealand to reach $5.04bn over the next four years.

Wind generators in Warrnambool, Australia. Credit: Getty Images

Revenues from renewable energy markets in the Australia and New Zealand region (ANZ) will reach an estimated $5.04bn by the end of 2016, according to new analysis from the business research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

Renewables in ANZ markets earned revenues of $1.90bn in 2011.

Subha Krishnan, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said:

Ever since the RET target for 2020 was amended to provide a solar multiplier for rooftop solar systems and some states introduced generous feed-in tariffs, small-scale installations such as [photovoltaic] systems and solar hot water systems have flooded the REC market.

Among all renewable energy sources, solar PV had the highest revenue share in 2011, while wind power is considered the lowest cost form of large-scale renewable energy generation in the ANZ region. It is noteworthy that Australia has some of the best wind resources in the world.

The Australian Parliament has passed landmark laws to impose a price on carbon emissions to enhance higher adoption of renewable energy. New Zealand, meanwhile, has allowed distributed electricity generators to sell electricity back to the grid.

Yet uncertainty in renewable energy targets (RET) in Australia and the absence of new policy approaches in New Zealand have hindered the market from making optimal use of these policies.

Frost & Sullivan argues that the targets for solar PV systems in Australia are not as high as those in Germany and Japan, which are as high as 20 per cent. The focus on improving the installed power capacity through coal-fired thermal power plants does not encourage project developers and equipment manufacturers to increase the installed solar PV capacity.

Environmental concerns are expected to cause a shift in focus from conventional power to renewable energy generation, thereby making a case for solar PV power.

In the wind power market, demand patterns have changed from small-capacity farms to large-capacity wind farms.

Krishnan added:

The benefits of economies of scale have prompted the installation of large capacity turbines over the last four years. This move has lowered installation and generation costs, giving a huge impetus to the renewable energy market . . .

Despite their high costs, renewable energy systems have found considerable acceptance among industrial end users, especially in urban areas. The economic benefits derived from green technologies will go a long way in keeping the market dynamic.