Tripling of renewable energy within reach for Australia

Australia has been singled out in a global report as a big emitter with relatively unambitious plans for renewable power.

The report released by independent energy think tank Ember on Tuesday found Australia will easily meet its target of 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030 - up from around a third presently.

Lead author Katye Altieri said tripling renewable capacity worldwide is the single biggest action required this decade for the climate.

Australia is among 12 countries already rolling out renewables faster than required to meet national targets, but was slammed as having "low renewables ambition".

It is second only to Brazil among 22 countries that have more prospective utility-scale solar and wind projects than needed to meet their whole renewable target, although not all will come online.

Yet only 10 countries are targeting a tripling in renewables capacity and many of them - including oil-rich Saudi Arabia - are starting from a low base.

To meet the existing 2030 target, Australia needs to add 5GW of renewables on average every year until 2030, Ember found.

"A more ambitious target is highly achievable, and to ensure a smooth transition there is a need for renewed policy support for energy storage and upgraded transmission," the report said.

Official modelling by the Australian Energy Market Operator shows renewable capacity of 92 gigawatts is required to meet the  existing 2030 target, comprising 51GW solar, 34GW wind and 7GW hydro.

But Ember's analysis found many countries are already aiming for a doubling of renewable capacity and a tripling of global renewables is "entirely achievable", mostly from solar and wind.

In the run up to the international COP28 climate talks, Dr Altieri urged leaders to support a global goal to triple renewables, as it is looking more possible than ever to achieve.

"The targets of today are already outdated and should be updated," she said.

The COP28 president-designate, oil CEO Sultan Al Jaber, has called for a global agreement to triple renewable capacity by 2030.

The International Renewable Energy Agency suggests the world's deployment of renewables must reach 1000GW annually to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

The analysis by Ember identifies a gap of 3.7 terrawatts between collective national targets and a global tripling in renewable energy.

Ten countries, including India, already aim to triple their renewable capacity and China is on course for doubling theirs. 

Twelve have wind and solar share targets that exceed the global goal of 40 per cent by 2030, including the United States. 

A further 20 countries plan to shift more than one fifth of their electricity mix from fossil fuels to renewables by 2030, including South Africa.

However, the report highlights Australia - along with Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates - as countries that are among the world’s highest emitters per capita and should step up.

"Billions of dollars in public and private capital would be unlocked," Bruce Douglas, CEO of the Global Renewables Alliance, said.

Tripling renewables would also reduce climate loss and damage - for nature and people, he said.

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