Australian states invest in renewables

Banner: states powering into renewables
  • Australia is already using lots of renewable energy.
  • Our State & Territory governments have ambitious plans to expand renewable generation.
  • All three of the Liberal State governments have ambitious plans.

Table: Renewable energy usage and plans

This table shows the “2019 percentages of renewable electricity” and the “renewable energy plans” for Australia, its states and territories.

Area% RenewablesRenewables Plans
ACT 100%*************************
Tasmania96%***********************200% by 2040
S Australia 52%*************100% by 2030, 500% by 2050
Victoria24%******50% by 2030
W Australia21%*****
NSW17%****Renewable Energy Zones
Queensland14%***50% 2030
N Territory 4%*

The above “percent renewables” are based on data from Clean Energy Council: 2019 Snapshot.

Australia overall

  • Renewable energy supplied 24% of Australia’s electricity in 2019.
  • Australia is on track for 30% renewables by the end of 2020 (Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator)
  • Australians are NOT using a small amount of renewable energy.

Australia has a target of net-zero carbon by 2050, by default. It’s by default because each state & territory has this target, not the Federal government.

Australia is increasing renewable generation and generating cheaper electricity. As our renewable generation increases, our electricity-based industries will become more cost-competitive and their products more marketable in a carbon-constrained world.

South Australia

In South Australia under a Liberal government:

  • wind and sun now generate 60% of their electricity,
  • renewables will generate 100% of their electricity by 2030,
  • their renewable target is for 500% by 2050,
  • they led the world with grid scale batteries and now have three running, and
  • the Whyalla steelworks is targeting green steel production.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

  • The ACT already runs on 100% renewables. They reached 100% by contracting to get all their electricity from wind and solar generators. When wholesale electricity prices surged in the first three months of 2019, these contracts saved the ACT $4 million.
  • They are on track to reach their goal of zero net emissions by 2045.

(ACT beats its 2020 emissions target with a 45% cut since 1990: Renew Economy: 4 Dec 2020)

Tasmania under a Liberal government

In Tasmania in 2019, 96% of electricity was renewable, mostly hydroelectricity. It’s now 100%.

Notably, the Tasmanian Liberals have set a target of 200% renewables by 2040. This 200% means that they will produce twice as much as they consume & export the surplus to mainland Australia & overseas. This target was world-leading until South Australia released its plans.

“Our vision is to have a renewable hydrogen generation facility & to be exporting hydrogen by 2030, creating hundreds of local jobs & injecting billions into the Tasmanian economy”.

Here the Tasmanian Liberal Premier, Peter Gutwein, is advocating for a part of the superpower vision.

(Tasmania sets a world-leading target of 200% renewables by 2040: Renew Economy: 4 March 2020)


  • Victoria generated 24% of its electricity from renewable energy in 2019
  • It has a legislated target of 50% by 2030.
  • Victoria is now producing substantially green steel as the Laverton steelworks is drawing electricity from the Numurkah solar farm.
  • Melbourne trams are now running on 100% renewable energy, also from the Numurkah solar farm.
  • SEA Electric is electrifying vehicles, e.g. rubbish trucks

New South Wales (NSW) under a Coalition government

The NSW Coalition Government has just passed legislation to set up “renewable energy zones”, which could see NSW generating 70% of its electricity from renewable by 2030. Amazingly, all major NSW parties supported this: The Liberals, Nationals, Labor and Greens.

When NSW called for generation proposals for their first renewable energy zone, they got 133 submissions, with a total generation capacity nine times more than their target. Private capital is eager to invest in renewables.

“There is only one way to go, and that is to modernise the grid, deliver cheap, reliable energy and set ourselves up to be an energy and economic superpower in a low carbon economy.”

The NSW Liberal environment minister, Matt Kean, explicitly advocates for the superpower vision

(Matt Kean says NSW can be a renewable energy superpower or stick its head in the sand: Renew Economy: 29 June 2020)
(We stared down big energy: NSW Minister Kean hails historic bill: Renew Economy: 26 Nov 2020)
(Watershed week for clean and green energy policy: Hannam: The Age: 28 Nov 2020)
(NSW’s plan to become a clean energy superpower: Matt Kean’s website)


Kean’s advice for The Federal Coalition: “We made [state energy policy] all about the economy, how to create jobs, drive investment, raise living standards and improve prosperity for every person in our state, regardless of whether they are in the cities or the bush. … [we are] embracing the future. In NSW, the Coalition owns the climate and energy agenda – it’s not Labor or the Greens doing the running.”

(NSW’s green machine leaves the PM’s jalopy in the dust: The Age: Hartcher: 16 Oct 2021)

All Three Liberal States: Moving to renewables

There are just three Liberal state governments: NSW, Tasmania, and South Australia, and each one is planning a massive increase in renewable energy. Their actions endorse the superpower vision, in stark contrast to the Federal Coalition’s ongoing demonisation of renewable energy.

Updated 13 March 2021