Australia could source 100 per cent of its power from renewables in 35 years, with Tasmania leading the way.
The study, produced in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said Australia is well placed to cut emissions at low cost because clean technologies for wind and solar energy have become significantly cheaper.
The report said Australia could achieve a near-zero carbon system by around 2040 if there clear and stable policy settings were introduced to support investment in renewable energy. Tasmania already sources 93 per cent of its power from renewable sources, and the State Coalition Government has said it’s committed to driving that percentage higher.
The report’s author, Australian National University associate professor Frank Jotzo, said with Australia’s abundant renewable resources, it is one of the best-placed countries in the world for moving to a fully renewable electricity supply.
“Australia can achieve zero net emissions by harnessing energy efficiency, moving to a zero-carbon electricity system, switching from direct use of fossil fuels to decarbonised electricity, and improving industrial processes,” he said.
The report said previous arguments about moving to renewable energy were based on the costs associated with transitioning from fossil fuels, but these assessments were incorrect.
“For example, large scale solar panel power stations are already only half the cost that the Treasury’s 2008 and 2011 modelling studies estimated they would be in the year 2003,” the report said.
Australia’s current commitment is to reduce carbon emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 but there is doubt among experts that the governments Direct Action policy will achieve the target
The governing coalition’s ambition to cut the existing Renewable Energy Target (RET) has triggered an investment drought in the clean energy sector and despite continued calls from business groups, the standoff over the RET remains unresolved.
Australia has been asked to defend the Direct Action policy at the UN, after several countries submitted queries on how the policy would cut emissions. The US and China joined other nations in challenging Australia about its policies and commitment to renewable energy.
The national climate change policy does not extend beyond 2020, however, the government is due to announce post-2020 emissions reduction targets in June.