Policy must “supercharge” shift to a zero emissions system

ARENA

Australia will have to increase its Renewable Energy Target and extend it beyond 2020, if it hopes to meet its commitments under the Paris global climate agreement, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has warned.

The clean energy industry’s peak body released a report on Friday detailing the policy levers needed to “supercharge” a Power Shift to a new energy system.

Power Shift: A blueprint for a 21st century energy system outlines the policy needed to push the nation towards to a zero emissions electricity system by 2050, including the 100 per cent uptake of clean energy systems in homes and businesses, including battery storage and smart technology.

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said taking advantage of Australia’s massive clean energy potential will allow the nation to modernise its energy system and cut emissions from the energy sector.

“In line with achieving these targets, the decarbonisation and modernisation of Australia’s electricity system needs to occur by no later than 2050. This means a national Power Shift is required, away from an outdated power system towards a modern, 21st century energy system,” he said.

“Power Shift outlines a plan to cut pollution through the orderly closure of clapped-out old power stations and drive new private sector investment in cleaner, smarter energy technology.

“While they have served us well over many decades, some of our current power plants would be more at home in the eastern bloc than in an innovative country such as Australia. As these plants phase out, Australia can take advantage of our world-class sun, wind, waves and bioenergy that will deliver the lowest-cost form of new electricity generation.”

Mr Thornton said the report contained several actions that could be integrated by policymakers and regulators to pave the way for a modern energy system, which creates a more competitive market and empowers consumers to generate, store and manage their own electricity use.

The Power Shift five-point plan for a 21st century energy system:

  1. Ensure long-term and transparent carbon reduction targets that apply to the energy sector, recognising the important interaction between energy policy and climate change policy. This should facilitate the closure of Australia’s most carbon-intensive coal-fired generation over time.
  2. Set strong and long-term renewable energy targets that ensure the continued and steady deployment of renewable energy. This can be achieved by an increase and extension of the Renewable Energy Target beyond 2020.
  3. Innovation that delivers the next generation of clean energy solutions with appropriate institutions and support for R&D, demonstration, and innovative financing for the clean energy sector.
  4. Smart regulation for a 21st century energy system that creates a competitive market and empowers consumers. Reform the energy market and current regulatory framework to facilitate greater competition, empower consumers and overcome the barriers to unlock the commercial opportunities to transition to smarter, cleaner energy technologies.
  5. Cement public support by unlocking the benefits of renewable energy for local communities and consumers.