The 3 Keys to 100% Renewable Energy in Australia
A recent article published in The Guardian newspaper highlights how Australia has the potential to achieve 100% renewable energy in the not-to-distant future, resulting in reduced energy pricing across the country. While this may seem like a bit of a lofty goal (considering our country’s carbon emissions have been steadily increasing for the past 4 years), according to a new book titled ‘Superpower’, it can be done.
Written by Ross Garnaut, ‘Superpower’ posits that Australia could reach a target of 100% renewable energy by the 2030s if it was to implement three key strategies. In addition to his role as chair of the Australian-German Energy Transition Hub and professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, Mr. Garnaut also provided expert advice to the Labor government in 2008 and 2011 regarding energy policies. He expresses a strong conviction that a commitment to renewables could result in “high degrees of security and reliability, and at wholesale prices much lower than experienced in Australia over the past half dozen years.”
Additionally, a workable renewable energy policy would help Australia to meet its target of eliminating carbon emissions by 2050, in line with our commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. While the country has a declared goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by the year 2030, it doesn’t currently have a long-term plan in place that would enable us to comply with the Paris Agreement. But Mr Garnaut thinks that could change, provided the government was to do three important things:
- Separate the Snowy Hydro project into two distinct parts: This would involve having an independent corporation that would be responsible for ensuring the reliability of Snowy Hydro power while remaining separate from the current retailer and generator. Having a separate entity would make it easier to get the balance right between energy demand and available supply, using a range of management strategies.
- Offer incentives for private corporations to invest in new power lines: The current Australian energy grids need constant upgrades and, while the state and federal governments are investing some of their budgets in this direction, it remains insufficient to meet the growing population’s needs. By incentivising investment in high-voltage power lines we would increase the reliability and stability of the power grid for a minimal extra cost.
- Make use of the ‘green bank’: The green bank, also known as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, was recommended for use by the consumer watchdog, but the suggestion has only been partially implemented by the government. If the watchdog’s proposals were to be fully applied, then the Clean Energy Finance Corporation would be used to subsidize small energy generators. This would, in turn, lead to lower contract pricing for power supply.
While many countries are making efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Australia is uniquely positioned as a potential global front-runner. According to Mr Garnaut, “no other developed country has a comparable opportunity for large-scale, firm, zero-emissions power, supplied at low cost.”