Create energy independent communities

Power schools, hospitals, government offices, public and social housing, remote Indigenous communities, sporting clubs, halls and libraries with affordable, clean energy by 2025, and replace coal and gas-burning power stations with renewable energy and storage by 2030.

The challenge

Most of Australia’s electricity still comes from coal and gas, our largest source of climate pollution.

The transition to renewable energy is underway and the Australian government projects 50% of our electricity will be from
renewable energy by 2030. But to protect our climate, we must power our lives and economy with 100% renewable energy.

Major corporations, countries and Australian states and territories are already committed to this goal.

More than 300 major global corporations including the ‘big four’ Australian banks and Woolworths have committed to 100% renewable energy.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) wants the nation’s main electricity grids to be capable of running on 100% renewable energy for periods of time by 2025. ¹

Many comparable countries and major economies have much higher shares of renewable power than Australia, for example:

  • The United Kingdom’s sources 42% of its electricity from renewable sources.
  • California — the world’s fifth largest economy — is at 53% and is aiming to reach 100% by 2045.
  • New Zealand is at 84% and aiming for 100% by 2035.

At home, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Tasmania are already at 100% renewable energy. South Australia is aiming for 100% by 2030 and 500% by 2050. Victoria, the Northern Territory and Queensland are aiming for 50% by 2030.

The Australian government has only promised to cut emissions by 26 to 28% by 2030, which is in line with over 3°C of global heating and has not even committed to net zero by 2050. Under current federal government policies Australia would not reach net zero until 2170.

The opportunity 

Australia can move to 100% renewable energy, cutting pollution and electricity bills at the same time. Wind and solar are the lowest cost new power sources, even when energy storage and new transmission is taken into account.

Australian governments and businesses can make this happen by investing in unprecedented growth in renewable energy and avoiding investment in flawed options like carbon capture and storage and nuclear power.

There are many ways to go renewable, from government renewable energy targets and reverse auctions, to businesses installing or directly contracting wind and solar power, to households and organisations installing solar panels or buying GreenPower.

Governments should prioritise and support renewable energy for government operations, homes (including rentals), community buildings and remote communities across Australia.

How to make the change

  • Power schools, hospitals, government offices, public and social housing, remote Indigenous communities, sporting clubs, halls and libraries with affordable, clean energy by 2025.
  • Replace coal and gas-burning power stations with renewable energy and storage by 2030.

Tests of success

  • The Australian government commits to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  • The Australian government sets policies and commits funds to power schools, hospitals, government offices, public and social housing, remote Indigenous communities, sporting clubs, halls and libraries with affordable, clean energy by 2025.
  • Every priority Renewable Energy Zone is unlocked with the necessary transmission infrastructure to connect high quality wind and solar to energy demand. ²
  • The Australian government maintains the renewable energy focus of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), doubling the CEFC’s funding and increasing ARENA’s funding by at least $2 billion.
  • The Australian government powers remote Indigenous communities with renewable energy and resources Indigenous training providers to skill up an Indigenous workforce to participate in the renewable energy economy.

Benefits

  • Cut Australia’s climate pollution by over 167 million tonnes a year. ³
  • Clean air quality for communities living in and around coal and gas plants and mines. For coal alone this avoids around 800 premature deaths and 14,000 asthma symptoms among children each year. 
  • Reliable, low-cost electricity — wind, solar and storage technologies are by far the cheapest forms of electricity for Australia.
  • Employ 44,000 people by 2025, many in regional and rural Australia.
  • Ease financial stress on the most vulnerable Australians by reducing electricity bills for those living in social and public housing and remote Indigenous communities.

 

Case study

Trailblazing territories

The ACT set and achieved its 100% renewable energy by 2020 target in five years using ‘reverse auctions’ for wind and solar power. The ACT has delivered 3MtCO2e in greenhouse gas pollution cuts, delivered record low wind and solar prices, created price transparency and more than 1,000 jobs.

Victoria and Queensland have both adopted the ACT’s renewable energy reverse auction approach.

In the Northern Territory (NT), the territory government has adopted a target of 50% renewable energy by 2030. With many remote communities relying on expensive, polluting diesel generators for power, the NT Government through the Power and Water Corporation has partnered with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to bring solar to remote communities. The cost of power from renewable energy and battery storage systems are significantly lower than diesel generation.

References

¹ https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-aemo-boss-wantsaustralias-grid-to-handle-100-pct-renewables-by-2025/

² https://aemo.com.au/-/media/files/major-publications/isp/2020/appendix--5.pdf?la=en p.10

³ https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-05/nggiquarterly-update-december-2020.pdf

 https://www.greenpeace.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/GPAP-Lethal-Power-full-report.pdf

 https://ieefa.org/new-australian-study-same-old-conclusionrenewables-are-cheaper-than-gas-coal/

https://roadmaptorenewables.nt.gov.au/roadmap-to-renewables-expert-panel-report