100% renewable energy in Australia by 2020

July 16, 2010

The target in Australia of 20% renewable energy by 2020 is the lowest it can respectfully be. There is no reason for the target number other than “it sounds good”.

We’re currently around less than 5% in Australia.

A recent report by Zero Emissions Network and the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute shows that it is technically feasible to reach 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan in brief:

  • The plan shows that it is technically possible to reach 100% renewable energy for Australia within a decade and the technology to achieve this transition is commercially available now. (Solar thermal with molten salt storage replaces baseload power currently sourced from fossil fuels.)
  • Australia has one of the best solar resources in the world – solar thermal power in the ZCA plan will supply 60% of Australia’s electricity.
  • Wind will supply 40% of Australia’s electricity in the ZCA plan. This is comparable to Denmark’s 50% by 2025 goal, and Spain’s 25% by 2020. In another comparison, China’s wind energy industry has been growing by 100% per year for the last four years.
  • The plan sets out detailed resource and labour requirements. A transition to 100% renewable energy will create around four times more permanent jobs than currently exist in the domestic fossil fuel sector.
  • The ZCA Plan will generate an investment of $370 billion over ten years – a stimulus to the Australian economy that is equivalent to 3% of our GDP over ten years.
  • The investment required for the transition is affordable at $8 per household per day.

I had the pleasure of speaking to some of the authors of the report from the Energy Research Institute a week ago, to discuss some renewable energy policy.

It’s my firm belief that as we move towards 20% over the next decade, it will become clear that transitioning to a clean economy is easier than we believe it to be now. If we succeed in reaching 20% by 2020, I think we can ramp up quickly to close to 100% by 2030.

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