Australia Aims for Zero Emissions by 2020

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The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, a report released by the non-profit group Beyond Zero Emissions in conjunction with the University of Melbourne’s Energy Institute, provides a detailed roadmap to power Australia’s with 100-percent renewable-energy by 2020.

The research was published in July by the University of Melbourne and argues that a renewable energy mix of wind energy and solar power backed up by biomass and hydroelectric power can easily replace Australia’s fossil fuel-based electricity. One of the main tenants of the research shoots down the theory that climate change cannot happen quickly. Promoters of Zero Carbon Australia have called for the Australian government to take a more aggressive approach to climate policy.

Matthew Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions, was quoted in a June press release, saying, “Australia needs a nation-building climate change project with the scale and vision of a Snowy Mountains Scheme for the 21st century. This approach can win the hearts and minds of Australians and put us on track to restore a safe climate.”

The Snowy Mountains Scheme, built between 1949 and 1974, is a hydro-electricity and irrigation facility and the largest engineering project in Australia, consisting of 16 major dams, seven power stations, a pumping station, and 225 kilometers of pipelines, tunnels, and aqueducts.

Wright added, “It’s time for the Australian parliament to implement a climate and energy policy agenda to repower our economy with 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. Concentrated solar thermal technology is capable of generating renewable electricity 24-hours-a-day, and credible and energy policy will encourage the rapid deployment of the technology in Australia.”

Resources to support the new Energy Plan call for seven percent of Australia’s concrete production during the next ten years; 2.6 percent of Australia’s total silver production, and 1.3 percent of the country’s total iron ore exports and steel production. The total investment requirement for Australia to concert to 100 percent renewable energy would be $AU370 billion, amounting to three percent of the gross domestic product, according to the report.

Skeptics of the plan include Duncan Currie, a writer for the conservative publication, National Review, who argues that a commitment to 100-percent renewable energy in ten years is unrealistic. He points to Al Gore’s very similar proposal in 2008 and the fact that in 2009 foreign oil still accounted for 63 percent of consumption.

Currie also cites data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that based on current government policies, fossil fuels will account for at least 78 percent of overall energy use in the United States in 2035, only down from 84 percent in 2008.

Article by Julie Mitchell, appearing courtesy Celsias.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

5 Comments

  1. As I noted earlier this kind of plan has no chance at all of being carried out. Indeed the estimated price tag is of $360 billion (265 billion euros) and to the Mother Nature Network (MNN) it would be “ significantly more than that”.

    How a single country like Australia can put so much money – 36 billion – per year ? Let’s be honest it can’t be done.

    I see six reasons for such plans to be bound to failure.

    (and the title is really misleading. The local government is moving, but not that fast… )

  2. We all agree: the headline is utterly wrong. The ‘plan’ expresses the view of only a tiny group, not “Australia.” Even if one imagines that the current prime minister has a similar “aim,” she politically possesses neither the gun nor the ammunition to hit such a target.

    While Stenger and I may not have exactly the same list of reasons, his stern skepticism is shared, and justified.

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