Australian wind energy enjoyed a record month in May as wind farms supplied 1,299 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity to the country’s main power grid, the National Electricity Market (NEM). Wind accounted for 8.5 percent of the country’s electricity demand, according to a report by energy consultants Pitt & Sherry. The record was 22 percent higher than the previous record set in July 2015 and came without any new capacity added in more than a year. The Australian Wind Alliance reports that the record amount of wind energy generated temporarily halted rising carbon emissions from the electricity sector.
Four states smashed records last month, led by South Australia where 49 percent of electricity demand was sourced from wind farms. Wind supplied 13 percent of electricity used in Tasmania, 12 percent in Victoria and 4.8 percent in New South Wales. Across the NEM, wind farms have 3.9 GW of capacity. In May, they operated at 49 percent, taking advantage of blustery conditions that more than doubled the efficiency rate compared to March.
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According to Pitt & Sherry, since former Prime Minister Tony Abbott repealed the country’s carbon tax in July 2014, emissions have increased 5.6 percent from the electricity sector. However, while current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has a mixed record on climate change action, it was reported that the Turnbull government will not publicly fund Australia’s largest proposed export coal project.
South Australia has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) also is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050, with a 100 percent renewable goal by 2020. Victoria just joined South Australia and the ACT in committing to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
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