Want to solve climate change? ‘Electrify everything’ says Aussie inventor

Photo of Dr Saul Griffith in a studio with a bicycle (Rewiring Australia)
Dr Saul Griffith (Image: Saul Griffith)

Inventor, entrepreneur and US presidential campaign advisor Dr Saul Griffith has told ABC Science that Australia should “electrify everything” to rapidly achieve net zero emissions using existing technology.

“If I had to choose the country for whom electrifying everything is the best economic win in the shortest amount of time … it is Australia,” he said.

“Electrify everything is a very, very good mantra for how we will solve climate change in the next few decades.”

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The general idea, Dr Griffiths said, was to replace technologies that still run on combustion with alternatives that run on renewable electricity: swap petrol cars for electric vehicles and gas heaters with reverse-cycle air conditioners.

By opting for complete electrification, Australia could cut its emissions by 80 per cent by 2035, according to credible estimates, and wouldn’t require new technologies to do so.

“It is an easy slam dunk,” Dr Griffith said. “It’s not even particularly invasive to our quality of life. For every other country, including America, it’s much harder and the economics are not as good.”

The electrify everything advocacy organisation, Rewiring America, founded by Dr Griffith, is now assisting US senators, Congress and the White House in writing energy policy.

Rewiring Australia will be launched soon, and Dr Griffiths said the most visible change for most would be the number of houses with rooftop solar panels.

Dr Griffith estimates three-quarters of Australian households would adopt solar panels, while other less visible adaptations would include electric vehicles in the garage, electric water heaters instead of gas heaters, and household battery storage.

The average Australian household would have to make about seven changes or new acquisitions, Dr Griffith said.

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“You’ve got to get the thing on the roof, you’ve got to change the two things in the garage, you’ve got to put two vehicle chargers in the house,” he told ABC Science.

“You have to electrify the water heater, electrify the space heating, and have some form of batteries in the house, as well as the vehicle batteries.

“And then probably you need to upgrade the electrical panel.”

Head to ABC Science to read the full article.