Phillip Riley

What would Australia look like powered by 100% renewable energy?

This week, Liberal party donor and coal plant owner Trevor St Baker is proposing with the help of his mates in government to build two new coal power stations in Australia at the expense of taxpayers.

However, the big four banks and the big three energy companies are not having a bar of it. Indeed the majority of Australia’s energy companies are working towards a very different future for the country’s energy system, a future powered by clean, renewable energy.

There are now at least nine studies conducted during the decade that have analysed how Australia can move from an electricity system based on polluting coal and gas to one powered by the sun, wind and waves.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) – the body tasked with making sure we have energy when we need it – found there were “no fundamental limits to 100% renewables”, and that the current standards of the system’s security and reliability would be maintained.

These studies show different pathways towards 100% renewable energy, but what they all agree on is that it can be achieved.

So how would it work? If we get our policies and regulation right, the electricity system of the future could look something like this:

1. Big on wind and solar

In future, the bulk of our electricity will come from the most affordable technologies – wind and solar photovoltaic (PV). In areas with the best renewable resources, big wind and solar projects connected to transmission lines will generate electricity to power Australia’s industry, transport, cities and exports.

2. Lots of different technologies in different locations

These solar and wind farms will be spread across the country, sharing their output, because in a huge continent the size of Australia, the wind is almost always blowing somewhere.

3. Small, so everyone can benefit

According to CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia, between 30% and 45% of the country’s future energy generation will be local and customer-owned – in homes, businesses and communities. This means solar panels on every sunny roof, and batteries in households and commercial buildings.

4. Demand is as important as supply

Future electricity use will be much more dynamic. When the sun is shining or a gale is blowing, smart software will send a signal to energy users to turn on their pumps and fill up their batteries.

Want to know more? Read the complete article here.

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