Vast green energy prospects in deserts

Remote Australia has a “vast potential” to produce renewable energy, including from solar, geothermal, wind and tidal sources.

This is one of the key findings of a review carried out for the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation’s (CRC-REP’s) Climate Change Adaptation, Energy Futures and Carbon Economies in Remote Australia project,

Remote Australia is currently highly dependent on fossil fuels. However a shift towards renewable energy production and transmission from remote Australia, “would contribute to the shift to a low-carbon economy and enhance employment, livelihoods and wider development in remote Australia,” according to the report.

The report also identifies a shift towards renewables not only has the potential to satisfy domestic use, but can also be used to supply coastal regions and possibly even east-Asian markets.

However the study cautions little is known about the economics of such ventures and, in the short-term, increasing demand for energy is likely to outstrip supply from alternative sources even though these are becoming more efficient.

“There is a need for wider cost benefit analysis to consider the associated employment, environmental and health benefits,” the report says.

The national move to lock-up carbon is also identified in the report as a catalyst for new livelihoods and enterprises for people living in remote areas, through greater demand for landscape and vegetation management. More specifically, the introduction of carbon pricing may create a range of opportunities for carbon sequestration over remote Australia.

The report also notes that, despite some progress, there are still some gaps in government policies in coping with the speed, scale and risks of climate change or how communities can adapt to it – and that many people are confused by current federal and state policies.