Sep 9, 2013
Australia could achieve nearly 100% renewable power within decades at the same cost as continuing to use fossil fuels, according to a new federal government study.
Modelling from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) shows that sourcing 100% energy from solar, wind and other clean sources by 2030 would cost between $219 and $252 billion, which is comparable to the costs associated with fossil fuel power, factoring in rising prices and carbon pricing.
This suggests that a switch to clean energy is not just technically possible, but financially feasible.
Jenny Riesz, Research Associate from the University of NSW’s Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets said:
We’re exposed to rising carbon prices, we’re exposed to rising gas prices. [F]or around the same price, you can build 100% renewable energy and completely protect yourselves from all of those risks. It’s kind of incredible that we haven’t modelled [a 100 percent goal] before now given that the costs are basically the same.
Australia currently has a bipartisan target of 20% or 41,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy by 2020.
The rapid growth, effectiveness, and economic impact of solar and wind power has taken many by surprise.
At current estimates renewable power will hit 27% by 2020, while the Australian market is rated as very attractive in a global renewable energy market expected to grow to US$630 billion a year by 2030.
Echoing earlier reports about the exploding use of renewables and the rapid decline in costs, the AEMO study provides a clear call for the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and other support mechanisms to be retained regardless of what party wins the Federal Election.
It also highlights that ambition on renewable energy deployments in the country could be greatly expanded.
Australia’s renewable energy is exploding, with over 2.5 million Australians now living in a homes with solar power or hot water. Wind power supplys up to 7.6% – or another 2.3 million homes worth – of electricity to the national grid at peak times.
While the environment has not featured much in the election campaign, 61% of Australians think the Government should do more to tackle climate change according to the ABC’s Vote Compass.
This result follows numerous other surveys that all support a public desire for stronger action on climate change.
But neither of the major parties appear to be listening, with the Australian Labour Party watering down its current policy, and the Liberal National Party promising to abolish much of the current legislation, only to replace it with an inferior, likely ineffective, and far more costly alternative – or one that could be abandoned if convenient.