Renewable Energy

Australia’s renewable energy powerhouse is the capital city Canberra. We lead Australia and many places in the world on renewable energy supply, behind the meter battery storage, development opportunities, research output and business collaboration and smart grid and data platforms.

Here, the success of your endeavours and investments in renewable energy are the most assured in Australia. Canberra provides the best vantage to gain both experience and the edge to succeed in growing the global shift to renewable energy supply.

Global investment in new clean energy

In 2015-16 global investment in new clean energy was $287 billion.
(source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance BNEF, Global trends in clean energy investment)

In the Asia Pacific Region the 2015-16 value of new clean energy was $135 billion (Bloomberg 2016).

Australia has an esteemed global reputation in renewable energy innovation, research and the geographic and climatic conditions that make renewables like wind and solar viable. The Clean Energy Council estimates that the large-scale component of the Australian Renewable Energy Target alone will generate approximately $10 billion in investment and create 6500 new jobs by the end of the decade. 

However, in Australia, new investment has fallen considerably due to legislative and market uncertainty in renewable energy targets.

The lone exception is the Australian Capital Territory.

Canberra - A global leader in renewable energy

We're among the few global regions and cities that have either achieved or set 100% targets for renewable energy. In the Asia Pacific region Canberra is a beacon of both activity and achievement.


global 100% renewable energy


Figure 1. Global distribution of regions, towns and cities that are already 100% renewable or will achieve 100% renewable energy supply by 2020. (source data: Wikipedia)

A bold plan for climate change and energy security

Canberra is a planned and designed city, established in 1913 as Australia’s capital city. The geographic and geological location of Canberra precluded the city from an historical development of coal or hydro power stations, so the city grew as a net importer of electricity through the national energy grid, subject to national energy market conditions. With sustained population growth, the challenges imposed by climate change, necessity to meet emission reduction targets and to secure long term energy supply, the ACT needed to develop and act on bold plans.

The history of Canberra’s renewable energy future

The ACT has one of the most ambitious emission reduction targets in Australia of 40% below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

According to modelling, a major shift to renewable energy sources will be required to meet the Territory’s 2020 emission reduction targets as up to 56% of emissions come from electricity generation with 26% from transport and 10% from natural gas.

To address the reduction, the ACT Government embarked on a legislated transition to renewable energy and introduced mechanisms to initiate, support and ensure the transition is supported at all scales from the utility grid, to the individual household then beyond to next generation renewables. To address the 26% from transport, a suite of measures from metropolitan transport redevelopment to electric vehicles is being actively pursued.

Overview of ACT Government renewable energy transition development mechanisms

  • In 2009 the first medium feed in tariff scheme began providing incentives to begin the installation of domestic rooftop PV systems.
  • In 2012-2013 the ACT Government’s Environment Directorate initiated the first large scale solar auction (40MW).
  • In 2014 and 2015 two winds auctions for 200MW were held along with a 1MW community solar scheme opening for proposals.
  • In 2016 the Next Generation Renewables (battery storage) 200MW auction opened.

Canberra’s renewable energy export outlook

Canberra is the clear leader in Australia and the Asia Pacific region when it comes to the rate of transition to renewable energy supply, the scale of deployment of next generation renewables and legislative support to ensure an assured outcome.

The fastest rate of transition to renewable energy in Australia

The ACT is on track to achieve 100% renewable energy supply by 2020. This is against a background of low to medium targets by other Australian states and territories and other countries in the Asia Pacific Region. 



Figure 2. Time to achieve 100% renewable energy based on extrapolation of current rates from 2016 reported targets. Tasmania achieves a fluctuating supply of renewable energy from hydro power above 90% that, at times, reaches 100%. The balance is mediated by undersea electricity supply from the mainland.

At current renewable energy targets, we predict that the ACT holds at least a ten year lead on other cities and regions in Australia. That lead translates to knowledge export leadership for business operating in the Territory and market advantages for business wanting to establish and compete in this rapidly emerging global industry.

To see the distribution of wind and solar plants generating Canberra's renewable energy supply, visit the interactive online map showing the distribution of energy sources

The largest scale of next generation renewables deployment in Australia

In both absolute terms and per capita measures, Canberra is leading the world in next generation renewables through behind the meter battery storage, as part of a 200 MW rollout program which began in 2016.

The rollout is also complemented by a data platform that provides real time measures of electrical activity on the grid from utility scale to individual households. Australia has the world’s largest interconnected electricity network. This alone offers invaluable opportunity to learn how to establish and grow in the renewables market sector from national grid to the household scale and beyond.

Knowledge and experience gained by operating in Canberra as an Australian base can enhance your logistics, supply chain and operations locally before expanding at scale into developing Asia Pacific markets.

Legislative support for renewable energy

The ACT Government is the only Australian state or territory to support renewable energy in such an accelerated way. The resultant business and economic development has accelerated the original plan to be 90% renewable by 2020 to easily achieve a 100% renewable outcome in the same time frame. To date, the ACT Government has attracted more than $1.5 billion in renewable energy investment.

The extent of legislative support extends beyond large scale reverse auctions to efforts to ensure that significant funding supports next generation renewable opportunities through the Renewable Energy Innovation Fund (REIF), developing a commercial business precinct with an active hub dedicated to enhancing synergies between renewable energy companies, government and research institutions. Its purpose is to innovate, accelerate and export knowledge and expertise.

The International Renewable Energy Agency has identified that proactive government measures are a key to successfully scaling up private sector investment by minimising investment risks, developing supply chains, securing grid access and to ensure stable and assured market operating environment. (Source: IRENA 2016)

Canberra is the ideal base to access valuable Australian Federal Government agencies that deal with renewable energy including Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Regulator

World renowned university research and postgraduate study

When it comes to renewable energy research endeavours and research output, the Australian National University in Canberra is globally renowned for renewable energy including pioneering work in photovoltaics for over 40 years, climate change research, plus economic and social sciences research and education related to renewables and material science. The Energy Change Institute at the Australian National University is a leader in research and teaching on technologies, efficiencies, policies, laws, sociology and economics of moving to a sustainable and dominantly renewable energy future.

A recent collaborative agreement between ANU, Monash University and several major Indonesian universities will see regional focus on renewable energy transition in SE Asia and develop significant opportunities to establish and explore emerging markets.

Vocational and trades training

The Canberra Institute of Technology is among the first tertiary institutions with dedicated test, research and training facilities through its Renewable Energy Skills Centre of Excellence which provides vocational training for qualifications in wind, solar, sustainability, and associated programs including construction and contract management, workplace safety, conservation and land management, and project management. This initiative supports the ongoing growth in skills and employment and comes in line with a 400% increase in jobs in the renewable energy sector. The CIT is also the centre for a new Independent Battery Storage Performance Test Centre where real time results of market ready batteries are available for system designers, installers and consumers to inform decisions.  

Regional excellence industry cluster

SERREE is an Industry Cluster initiative to position the ACT and South East NSW as a region of excellence for Australia's renewable energy industry. This cluster brings together business, government, local industry, regional development, consumer, consulting and research to advance renewables in the region surrounding the ACT.

Renewable energy precinct and commercial hub

To further strengthen the collaborative opportunities, the ACT Government has invested in the siting and development of a dedicated renewable energy precinct and hub adjoining the ANU to promote and support cross disciplinary innovation and collaboration. Co-locating businesses gain valuable networking opportunities, access to researchers and a strengthened voice when making representation to federal government based in Canberra.

Canberra – your ideal base for operations in the Asia Pacific 

With an educated and willing local population, you have a forward thinking market to establish sales, retail brand awareness and evaluate your aspirations.

A warm and eager local retail market

With a population earning one of the nation’s highest median weekly income, and great attention and concern for environmental issues including renewable energy, you have a reduced barrier to entry into retail markets. People who purchase in Canberra are early adopters. This retail opportunity provides valuable proof of concept, sound activation around product and brand awareness, simplified deployment logistics due to a high geographic concentration of housing for domestic products, and easy after sales servicing and warranty assurance.

Rapid growth in new and smart housing

With three of the five fastest growing residential suburbs in Australia, Canberra provides new opportunities to establish smart grids, smart data platforms and smart city infrastructure.

One notable addition to residential development is Denman Prospect. This suburb, which is in early land release stage will be Australia’s first residential development to have solar systems required on all homes. Every house in Denman will have a minimum 3kW system with smart tracking and be connected a data grid platform.

Canberra also boasts a high geographic concentration of suburban dwellings and a single level of government administration making both installation logistics and deployment simpler than other capital cities; many of which have multiple levels of administration and government to contend with.

A well connected digital city

Canberra is well connected and serviced by road, train and air connections between Sydney and Melbourne with direct flights to Singapore offering a secure, mature environment to base your business in the region and easily access foreign and Australian cities.

We are confident that the lessons learned here will provide competitive advantages for business we believe is conditions that are inevitable and up to a decade away under current market and legislative conditions. 

This city is connected digitally and was the first city in the world to install fibre optic cable to the home to enable fast broadband and network connectivity.

As the seat of the Australian Federal Government, operating from Canberra means you are close to the decision makers to connect and consult with government agencies responsible for renewable energy policy, research funding and administration.

A renewable energy innovation centre decades ahead of the curve

Canberra’s current situation and opportunity represents a scale replica of the renewable energy market of the future.

As more cities and regions decarbonise and transition to renewable energy, businesses that aim to capitalise on forthcoming opportunities will need to address the technical, logistic, engineering, retail and operational supply chain requirements to operate at scale and grow to meet demand.

In some scenarios the transition will be gradual, in others it may need to be accelerated.

Canberra is currently the only city in the Asia Pacific that offers you a test bed and warm retail market opportunity to plan, test, refine, deploy and manage scale to address your future growth.

Further Reading

ACT Government renewable energy and climate change programs

The ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate is the lead agency planning, administering and developing the transition to 100% renewable energy in the ACT.

To achieve these targets, the government is driving policy, renewable energy projects and administering energy saving programs across homes, businesses and organisations.

The Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010 sets out the ACT targets of zero net emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2050, and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, along with a renewable energy target of 100% by 2020.

The Australian National University Energy Change Institute

The Energy Change Institute combines leading research and teaching and post graduate courses on the technology, efficiency, policy, law, sociology and economics of moving to a sustainable and dominantly renewable energy future.

SERREE The South East Region of Renewable Energy Excellence

SERREE is an industry cluster initiative to position the ACT and south east NSW as a region of excellence for Australia's renewable energy industry.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency

ARENA is the peak Federal Government Authority is tasked with making renewable solutions more affordable and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia.