The Commonwealth of Australia’s current population is estimated to be 24.93 million people. In 2017, the power plants used fossil fuels (84.9%) and renewable energy (15.1%) to generate electricity in the country. The primary source of fossil fuel was coal and the primary sources of renewable energy were hydropower and wind.
Although Australia is still heavily dependent on coal for power, the country is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission. The Australian government has established a renewable energy target (RET) of generating 23.5% of the country’s electricity from renewable energy by 2020.
Australia’s rapid move to renewable energy is occurring with the development of new, utility scale renewable projects and installation of residential solar systems. Currently, 20.3% of Australian households have installed solar systems. The Australian Clean Energy Council estimates that residential solar systems have a total estimated capacity of 7,900 MW.
The rapid growth in residential solar systems has been driven by high electricity prices across the country. The state of South Australia achieved the dubious honor of having the highest electricity prices in the world. The financial advantages of roof top solar are overwhelming when electricity costs consumer U.S. 40 ¢ per kWh. By comparison, the average cost of electricity in the United States is U.S. 12 ¢ per kWh.
Australia is trying to make a concerted effort to move away from coal as a fuel to generate electricity in the country. However, the path the state and federal government has taken has created a financial burden on the citizens of the country with high electricity prices. In my opinion, Australia is an excellent case history on the disadvantages of cap-and-trade and carbon tax policies.