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Australia’s Climate Commission Pushes For 100% Renewable Energy Future

Photovoltaic array in Australia

Australia’s Climate Commission has made a case for a massively expanded program of renewable energy development, in a newly released report. Currently, Australia relies very heavily on fossil fuels for generating electricity, especially on the use of coal.

In the report, ‘The Critical Decade: Generating A Renewable Australia”, Climate Commissioners Tim Flannery and Veen Sahajwalla have outlined the potential for the fast growth of renewable energy in Australia, and for an infrastructure transition to distributed power.

The report points out that Australia’s solar power potential is huge, as the country has “the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any country in the world”.  Australia now has 2 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity (solar panels), mostly on residential rooftops, with the potential for a great deal more. Only around 1% of Australia’s electricity is now generated from solar panels.

The report has projected that solar and wind will be the cheapest electricity sources in Australia by 2030, if not before, and the cost of solar panels has already dropped by 75% just in the past 4 years.

The report issues a challenge to Australia to turn the “enormous potential of renewable energy into implementation at a large scale, as rapidly as we can. This is the critical decade to get on with the job”.

If Australia does decide to head rapidly down this new path, it would certainly be a major 21st century achievement for a country still so heavily reliant on fossil fuel use. Of course, with climate change looming large, Australia’s massive coal export industry will also have to be addressed in the years ahead.

It seems likely that the world market for coal will go into decline as the years roll on. In fact, the rather conservative International Energy Agency has recently calculated that due to escalating climate change, two thirds of the world’s already proven fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. That’s not great news for Australia’s massive coal industry.

Do you think Australia will take up the challenge to ramp up renewable energy to the scale envisaged by the Climate Commission?

Image CC licensed by addiant A solar array installed at the University of Queensland, Australia.

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