Renewable energy powering Australia without the Government’s help

According Dr Stocks, a third of houses in Australia now have solar panels. Picture: Tallis Miles

 

By TALLIS MILES

The Federal Government’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions have been labelled “a lost cause” in the fight against “catastrophic climate change” by an Australian National University researcher.

Dr Matthew Stocks, a research fellow with the Research School of Engineering at the Australian National University, said the Federal Government was too focused on reducing electricity prices and not on cutting carbon emissions.

“They (the Federal Government) have largely said that carbon emissions are not the most important thing. They are about reducing electricity prices and have installed an Energy Minister who is anti-wind farms,” he said.

“Whereas the other major parties – the Greens and the Labor Party – are much more supportive in the push for having significant reductions of emissions in our electricity sector,” he said.

Dr Stocks said the shift away from fossil fuels “is going to be a no-brainer as the system is going to change and simply because the cost is better and not necessarily because of environmental reasons”.

This will come because of technology changes and the fact an increased understanding of the process has helped to drive down prices.

He also said 2030 is a “perfectly reasonable goal” for 100 per cent renewable electricity supply and future efforts should be focussed on installing generational technology and replacing internal combustion engines with electric cars.

Dr Matthew Stocks. Photo: Australian National University

However, Dr Stocks said more support and development of renewable energy sources was needed to combat climate change.

“There is no question that we could be doing things faster than we are and more than we currently are at the moment,” he said.

“We probably, as a country need to be focusing more on our electricity … to ensure that we are delivering our share of the reductions the world needs to avoid catastrophic climate change.” 
 

A recent article in The Conversation he co-authored showed that if the current rate of renewable energy installation continued, Australia would reach 29 per cent renewable electricity in 2020 and 50 per cent in 2025.

In an opinion piece published on The Big Smoke, the Opposition spokesman on climate change and energy Mark Butler said “Australians should be rightly outraged” at  the Federal Government’s recent renewable energy policies.

He said the Federal Government’s energy policies were “a disaster for Australian households and business that have been struggling under skyrocketing power prices because of the Liberals’ energy and climate policy paralysis.”

Mr Butler said the government had ignored all industry and expert advice including the Energy Security Board, which has said: “The cost of running a clean-coal plant is much more expensive that running a combination of wind, solar and gas, or, better yet, wind, solar and pumped hydro.”  

A spokesman for the State Opposition’s energy spokesman David Southwick said the Coalition was supportive of any technology that delivered affordable, reliable and sustainable power.

“We have announced a policy for a 75 per cent local content requirement for renewable [energy] projects over $50 million in value. This will ensure local renewables manufacturing businesses have assurances of work and encourage new entrants into the renewables industry,” he said.

“However, we would not tolerate any energy policy that does not provide people with  affordability and reliability because that is what everyone needs.”