Renewable energy on the rise but coal still leads, latest figures show

Wind farm at sunrise

The 2021 Australian Energy Statistics have been released by the government, revealing trends in power sourced, used and produced across the country throughout 2019-2020. While renewable energy sources continue to increase, coal has continued to provide most of Australia’s energy. 

The report shows that coal remained the largest generator of electricity around the country, providing 54% of our power. Despite coal maintaining its spot as Australia’s largest power producer, black coal production fell by 2% in 2019-20 while brown coal fell 4%. 

Gas grew by 4% to make up 27% of Australia’s energy mix, and was the most-used power source in the manufacturing industry accounting for 42% of energy in the sector. 

Despite strong results from traditional energy sources, renewable energy continued to climb, providing 24% of power generation in the 2020 calendar year, up from 21% the year prior. 

Solar generation rose an impressive 42% to become the fastest growing power generation source for both 2019-2020 and the 2020 calendar year, while wind generation rose 15%. Solar and wind each contributed 8% of total power generation across the country. 

Interestingly, the statistics indicate that 16% of Australia’s energy generation comes from outside of the energy sector, with households and industry accounting for that power. 

The report also highlights the impact COVID-19 has had on Australia’s energy usage and the sector as a whole. Our energy consumption fell 2.9% in 2019-20, compared to an average annual growth of 0.7% over the prior decade. 

Residential usage saw a 3% increase in power consumption, however this was offset by a 3% decrease in commercial usage, likely due to the pandemic.

Energy imports also fell by 7%, with lower transport needs caused by the pandemic resulting in less demand for refined petroleum products and crude oil. The transport sector saw a 9% decrease in energy usage, but still maintained its position as the largest consumer of power accounting for 27% of all consumption.

The report continues to highlight that most of Australia’s energy production continues to be exported, with 70% of power produced in the country throughout 2019-20 sent overseas.

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