Australian 100% Renewable Electricity Grid Would Provide Long-Term Economic, Climate, & Social Benefits

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A 100% renewable electricity grid in Australia would provide long-term economic, climate, and social benefits for the country, according to a new discussion paper published by Australia’s Alternative Technology Association.

A report published by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) — a not-for-profit organization in Australia focused on sustainable living for homes and communities — examined the possibility of a fully renewable energy grid being developed in Australia, and concluded that the grid was not only doable, but would play a significant part in Australia’s commitment to fighting climate change. The report, 100% Renewable Energy Grid – Feasible?, also concludes that a 100% renewable energy-powered electricity grid would improve local health outcomes, provide greater energy security, as well as provide more jobs.

“We do not advocate replacing all of Australia’s fossil fuel power stations with simple wind farms and solar panels, as that would result in blackouts,” the authors of the report write. “We support the development and deployment of an appropriate mix of solutions including:

  • Smarter wind and solar generation
  • Upgraded transmission lines
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy storage
  • Smart appliances

“We found all experts agree that a 100% renewable grid will be reliable and stable, as long as it uses an appropriate mix of renewable generation sources, energy storage, and upgraded infrastructure,” explained Andrew Reddaway, the paper’s author and ATA energy analyst.

The report goes on to show that the approach laid out above “can deliver reliable grid electricity,” and points to several studies, “including one by the Australian Energy Market Operator.”

During periods of calm, cloudy weather electricity is sourced from sunny or windy parts of the country, and supplemented with energy stores such as hydroelectric dams, molten salt heat storage, batteries, renewable gas and stockpiles of pelletised woody waste. 

“This grid would be robust, with smarter renewable generators and batteries automatically injecting extra electricity when required for grid stability,” Mr Reddaway continued. “Similarly, smart appliances would detect disturbances in the grid and independently adjust their power level to compensate.”

The authors of the report similarly conclude that the cost of such a project is well within the margins, explaining that it could be seen “as a 21st century version of the Snowy mountains Scheme, whose cost approximated 16% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product in its commencement year.” Importantly, the authors conclude that while transitioning to a 100% renewable energy electricity grid might cost a similar proportion of a single year’s GDP today, “Any capital costs would be spread over the project’s duration, which would span at least a decade.”

Conversely, according to the report, investment in a 100% renewable energy electricity grid “must be weighed against alternative costs such as replacing existing coal‐fired power stations, many of which are approaching their design lifespan.”

“During the transition energy costs are likely to be slightly higher than ‘business as usual’, but in the longer term it would place downward pressure on electricity bills because renewable energy generation is cheap to run,” Mr Reddaway said. “Many jobs would be created and capital costs would be spread over the project’s duration, which would span at least a decade.

“Widespread energy efficiency measures would further offset costs.”


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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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