Renewable Energy in Australia – The “Repower Australia Plan”
By Celine Lai
The “Repower Australia Plan” is a joint project between the Australian Conservation Foundation, GetUp!, Solar Citizens, the Nature Conservation Council, Environment Victoria, and 350.org. It has been authored by the Community Power Agency, and can be downloaded from the Solar Citizens website.
The Repower Australia Plan is underpinned by ten studies that show 100% renewables is 100% doable. All we need is a plan to make it happen.
This 216 page report provides comprehensive and detailed information about the need to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 and how to do it, and what’s holding this up.
It explains why the government-touted line that carbon capture is the answer to reducing emissions is not good enough. Electricity generation from both solar and wind sources will work in tandem. Energy from solar sources will be stored in batteries that are used when wind generation is low.
The Plan looks at energy market failures (page 33) and defines jargon related to energy issues (page 34). The Climate Change Authority, the federal government’s main source of independent expert advice on climate policy, recommends Australia cuts its greenhouse gas pollution by between 40-60% below 2000 levels by 2030.
Here is an excerpt from the Plan, page 26.
What would a 100% renewable electricity system look like?
In the future, the bulk of our electricity will come from the most affordable technologies – wind and solar photovoltaic (PV). In the areas with the best renewable resources, big wind and solar projects connected to big transmission lines will generate lots of electricity to power Australia’s industry, transport and cities.
Modelling by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) suggests that wind generation will supply up to 70% of Australia’s electricity needs, while modelling by CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia found that wind and solar will provide nearly all generation by 2050. We will fill the gaps in supply with a range of on demand renewables and storage such as concentrating solar thermal with storage, pumped hydro, batteries (grid and domestic), sustainable bioenergy and more.
According to CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia at least 30-45% of Australia’s future energy generation will be local and customer-owned, in homes, businesses and communities.
In the future all Australians will be able to access and benefit from decentralised generation and energy efficiency and storage such as solar or small-wind, hydro or bioenergy projects.
Our electricity grid will continue to act as an essential service, however it will be run for the public good, not private profits. That means households and businesses will be incentivised to use the local grid infrastructure through revised tariffs and peer-to-peer energy trading.
To understand how we can repower Australia, please read and share this Report and support its recommendations. Some points noted follow.
- The electricity sector is the cheapest and easiest to decarbonise.
- The NEO – National Electricity Objective – must be aligned with climate and social justice objectives and targets, as New York, the U.K. and Denmark have achieved.
- Benefits of distributed generation such as solar, storage,and sustainable bioenergy include reducing peak demand and deferring network investment, only using part of the electricity network, thus increasing network efficiency, and technical utilization, like reactive power and voltage control.
- Part 2 of the report looks at resistance to renewable energy, being outdated energy rules and NEO and monopoly by the 3 big “gentailers” (generating companies that also have a retailing arm): AGL, Origin Energy and Energy Australia, who became powerful by buying up the government retail and generation businesses when they were privatised or by taking over companies who had done so. Deregulation is yet to introduce effective competition. Re-regulate the “gentailers”.
- The federal government should establish a level playing field for consumer, community and industry representatives to deliberate and negotiate on fair national benchmark tariffs for network and energy services. If the federal government won’t do it, state governments could step up and at least provide benchmark tariffs for their jurisdiction.
- Mandatory efficiency standards for rental properties are needed.
- To get the most out of our shared investment in the electricity network, we need electricity prices to reward people for improving the system, not for leaving it.
- Transport and industry to be powered by renewable energy.
- Replace the polluters: stop companies burning fossil fuels.
- Demand management with incentives will drive energy-saving.
- Develop a renewable exports industry by powering the world with Australian-made renewable hydrogen.
Page 168 looks at outmoded coal burning as a major obstacle to renewable energy.
Three-quarters of Australia’s electricity comes from coal and the vast majority of that comes from obsolete, inefficient ‘subcritical’ coal plants. Because of this coal and inefficiency, Australia does more damage to the climate per unit of electricity than almost any other developed country – even more than China and Saudi Arabia.
The Plan promotes a just transition for fossil fuel communities, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement 2015, which dealt with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance related to climate change.
Western Australia, as a state that still has publicly owned retailers and networks, is in a position to leapfrog to a Local Energy System/Trading Platform future and could be a test-case for the rest of Australia.
The excerpt below from the Plan’s Summary shows how achievable it is to have Australia run on renewable energy. Please get informed about this transformation which is critical at this time, because your understanding and knowledge can be shared with others and can be used to press for this Plan and similar strategies to be considered urgently by the Australian government and other stakeholders.
We can do this! Excerpt from summary of “Repower Australia”
Research from the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney shows:
- By 2030, we can power all of Australia’s homes and businesses with 100% renewable electricity.
- By 2035, we can meet around 40% of our transport needs with renewable energy as well.
- By 2050 we can cut all climate pollution from the whole energy system. Everything we do, from driving a car to hauling freight, from manufacturing to heating to taking a flight, can run on clean, affordable energy generated from the wind, sun, and other clean energy sources.
- We can move to a 100% renewable power supply, and phase out all coal-fired power by 2030, with electricity that is more reliable than it is today.
- The combination of renewables and energy efficiency will deliver massive reductions in carbon pollution.
For information on how you can help repower Australia, click on the link below.
Thank you for reading this and sharing this information!