Should Australia convert to 100% renewable energy?
Published: 22 Apr 2016 By Grace Kimberley
The changes in the Australian government over the last ten years and newly implemented energy targets has had a huge impact on solar jobs. (Covered by Energy Jobline here) With Australian households being highly self-sufficient when it comes to rooftop panels, the government isn’t generating capital from household solar and therefore there isn’t a great deal of support for the solar PV community. Of all renewable energy that Australia operates, solar is one of the lowest contributors, only representing 8% of the total renewable energy sources. In a new report produced by the institute for sustainable futures (University of Technology Sydney) it was discovered that if Australia were to convert to 100% renewable energy by 2050, this would be less costly compared to the route they are currently taking.
This would mean covering all electricity and means of transport so that every single aspect is running on renewable energy supply, which would cost Australia approximately $800bn between now and 2050. However, the fuel costs that the country would be saving on would in turn cover 110 percent of the investment required to change the economy plans so drastically. It’s thought that Australia can achieve this by constructing new large-scale solar and wind projects and additionally converting to transmission infrastructure. They would also need to introduce insightful energy efficiency calculators.
This is the first report of its kind, with little research being conducted historically about the cost saving opportunities that would arise after a full transition to renewable energy for Australia. A similar model was developed for Germany on how the country would execute its 80% renewable target by 2050. The report delves into 3 potential scenarios in Australia’s energy economy.
Despite the solar targets the Australian government has set and its lack of commitment to supporting the solar PV community, Australia has a huge amount of opportunity for a transition into renewable energy, which is why this option is now being widely recognised. The transition would also have a highly positive impact on the effects of global warming.
The issue is that there is an added need for supporting the solar industry if Australia decide to even consider the transition to solely relying on renewable power. If no change is made in the support of solar PV in comparison to utility scale solar, the solar community cannot invest in the development of additional companies and equipment and therefore this target cannot be achieved. Household solar in particular, as it stands currently could be potentially detrimental to this idea. In 2007, Australia made a commitment to 20 per cent of Australia’s energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. Is 100% renewable energy sources for Australia by 2050 a realistic target after taking this into consideration or does Australia have the potential to reach this goal if the government ensures they are proactive with their energy plans?
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