Renewables Could Provide all Australia's Electricity by 2020

Jun 23, 2010· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
Australia has a chance to trade coal-fired for renewable power. (Photo: Daniel Munoz/Reuters)

Wind and solar thermal energy.

These two sources of renewable energy could shoulder 100 percent of Australia’s energy by 2020, according to a new report.

The report’s authors, Zero Carbon Australia, who worked in conjunction with the Melbourne University Energy Institute, “propose a mix of 60 percent of energy from solar thermal with molten salt storage and 40 percent from wind power,” according to UPI.

“Australia could be the first large economy to show the way,” said John O. Blackburn, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Duke University, in a press release.

The lynchpin of the lofty goal is a $92 billion upgrade to Australia’s national electricity grid.

If the promise in the report comes to life, it will bring an almost total shift in Australia’s energy culture.Right now, 80 percent of Australia’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power stations, with less than 1 percent coming from wind and solar.

"The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 plan shows that it is technically feasible and affordable to replace all fossil fuel electricity with 100 percent renewable energy given the willpower and commitment to do so," said Mark Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environment Engineering, Stanford University, in a statement.

According to the report:

Implementing the proposed renewable infrastructure over a ten-year timescale would require a small percentage of Australia’s industrial capacity, in terms of resources and labour force. The required investment of $37 Billion/year is the equivalent of 3% of GDP. The extra money spent versus Business-As-Usual to 2020 is the equivalent of $3.40 per person per day, the cost of a cup of coffee.

The Australian report comes just days after the Centre for Alternative Technology unveiled zerocarbonbritain2030 (ZCB2030), a collaborative project showing one possible scenario for making the entire United Kingddom carbon-neutral by 2030.