With the federal election set for May 21, the Clean Energy Council says securing Australia’s economic future and action on climate change starts with policies that accelerate the renewable energy transition.
“Energy policy probably isn’t front of mind for a lot of voters come election time,” Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said.
“However, global events probably suggest that this federal election should be different.
Related article: Government seeks to delay coal-fired power plant closures
“This is the decisive decade for containing global warming to 1.5°C. Clean, low-cost renewable energy will drive economic growth, lower power bills, boost local manufacturing and create jobs.”
Electricity generation is Australia’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy has made the largest contribution to our nation’s emissions reduction.
Renewable energy now supplies 32.5 per cent of Australia’s electricity—a figure that’s almost doubled since 2017, when renewable energy accounted for 16.9 per cent of generation. The influx of solar, wind, hydro and storage has meant that Australian households now enjoy some of the cheapest electricity in the developed world. For example, Australians on average pay US17.6 c/kWh when adjusted for purchasing power parity, compared to the OECD average cost of 24.2 US c/kWh. Germans, meanwhile, on average pay US40.6 C/kWh.
Using the Federal Government’s emissions data, our modelling shows that an energy sector powered by 100 per cent renewables by 2030 can deliver Australia a 44.5 per cent reduction in carbon emissions based on 2005 levels.
“When you support pro-renewable energy policies, you are voting for a prosperous Australia,” Thornton said.
The transition to a clean energy system will require an enormous skilled workforce. The current pipeline of renewable energy projects could support 80,000 jobs. The clean energy sector is ready to deliver career pathways that the future workforce can genuinely aspire to.
Skilled engineers and specialist trades will be required to support the construction of crucial transmission infrastructure over the next five to 10 years. There can be no growth in the renewable energy industry without these workers, let alone the full-scale energy transition we need to address climate change. It’s why support from all sectors of the economy to grow the renewable energy labour market is critical.
The renewable energy transition goes beyond powering our homes. An Australia powered by abundant, clean, low-cost electricity from the sun and wind means that we can get a lot more from our manufacturing sector. By rebooting Australia’s manufacturing capacity using renewable energy, production costs come down, while our cost-competitiveness for export goes up—and that’s good news for job creation.
“The low-cost electricity provided by renewable energy can help expand Australian manufacturing capacity, create more regional jobs and growth, and reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“If we get our policy settings right, the opportunity is there for wind and solar power to create green energy like renewable hydrogen that becomes a top export earner for Australia. This means jobs and growth for rural Australians—we’ll all prosper.”