Is Australia making the most of renewable energy opportunities?
Australia has plenty renewable energy potential, not least because of its vast landscapes and abundance of wind and solar power. However, the country has faced widespread criticism for how well it has embraced the clean energy boom - are there still resources that haven't yet been accessed?
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that in 2013, the country was the world's ninth largest producer of energy. The production from renewables has grown steadily, increasing 16 per cent between 2008-09 and 2010-11.
The ABS confirmed that wind and solar power production has risen considerably over recent years, although the majority of clean energy is derived from renewable fuel products and hydro-electricity.
Room for improvement
Earlier this year, the Climate Council's Professor Tim Flannery and John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council, released a report showing where improvements can be made.
Some states are now starting to take their own initiative for the use of green power.
The Global Renewable Energy Boom: How Australia is Missing Out acknowledged how the country's G20 allies are leading the way in terms of green power. This has been achieved through establishing ambitious targets and encouraging companies to join in the race for renewables. However, the study authors concluded that Australia is at risk of falling further behind, as well as facing rises in electricity prices.
This is largely because last year, Australia saw reduced investment in the sector, which was the result of political and economic uncertainty. Statistics contained in the report show that Australia has enough renewable energy resources to power the country 500 times, but so far, these extensive resources haven't been used.
Moving in the right direction
Some states are now starting to take their own initiative for the use of green power - including Victoria.
The state is pushing for its own renewable energy target, which will ensure residents and businesses continue to benefit from improved security. This also has the potential to lower electricity and gas prices for those living in Victoria.
The Clean Energy Council believes this is a positive move not only for the environment, but also for the state's economy. Chief Executive Kane Thornton acknowledged that there is "a lot that can be done at the state level".
Mr Thornton continued: "The ACT reverse auction process has helped support the sector during a challenging period, with a major solar power plant already completed, and a series of other major projects in development."
If other states start to follow suit, Australia's clean energy reputation could well be in line for a much-needed boost.
Posted by Richard West