Back in 2001 when the Howard government set a goal for Australia to produce 33,000 Gigawatt hours from large-scale clean energy by 2020, wind and solar power were the most expensive form of energy. The goal was expanded in 2009 and reduced in 2015. That 33,000 GWh renewable energy target has been hit a year early, with wind and solar the least expensive forms of power to produce.

The Clean Energy Regulator announced this week that Australia met the renewable energy goal on 30 August, thanks in large part to the investment of $24 million in renewables in the past 18 months. Hitting the target means the government will no longer subsidise wind, solar, and hydro projects, seeing its mission as accomplished and the industry in good stead. The 33,000 GWh represent about 12 per cent of Australia’s energy output.

“While future investment faces a number of constraints, this is by no means the end of renewable energy investment in Australia, with markets continuing to innovate and adapt to opportunities and challenges,” Clean Energy Regulator Chairman David Parker said in a statement.

It was the approval of Goldwind’s 148.5 MW Cattle Hill Farm in Tasmania that crossed the finish line for the renewable energy target. 

A recent study by Australian National University predicted Australia would meet its Paris Accord goals by 2025. The accord calls for a 26 to 28 per cent reduction of 2005 emissions levels by 2030. ANU researchers project the 41,000 GWh mark will be passed by the end of 2020 after all. 

Some of this capacity remains to be built, but the projects are in the works.

“It is now certain Australia will generate enough renewable energy to meet the 2020 large-scale renewable energy target,” Parker said. “This achievement represents the hard work of a growing and dynamic renewables industry.”