A new major report has concluded that Australia needs between 66% and 75% renewable energy for electricity generation by 2030 in order to meet its Paris Climate Agreement commitments, or face delaying a necessary transition and increasing the eventual cost to the national economy.
The primary conclusion from the first major report from The Australia Institute’s newly-formed Climate & Energy Program, Meeting our Paris Commitment, is that the country must increase its share of renewable energy electricity generation to between 66% and 75% by 2030 in order to meet its emissions targets and in order to avoid transferring the major burden of emissions reductions onto other sectors.
Australia’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement is to reduce carbon emissions by 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030. Considering that Australia’s energy sector accounts for 35% of the country’s emissions, this means that it will have a huge part to play in reducing those emissions.
However, part of the national discussion is whether the energy sector should reduce its own emissions by 26–28%, or whether the energy sector should account for a larger part of the abatement task, therefore preventing other industries having to take on an unnecessarily weightier burden.
The Australian Institute’s analysis of government-commissioned modeling found that, in order for Australia to meet its Paris commitments, the country faces a choice:
- Adopt a least-cost path, involving a transition to between 66–75% renewable energy by 2030; or
- Further delay the transformation of the electricity sector, which will increase the cost to the economy as a whole and push a greater proportion of the emission reduction task onto other sectors, such as agriculture, transport and manufacturing.
Renewable energy penetration required to achieve emissions reductions 40–55% CET
“This analysis of the economic modelling demonstrates meeting these targets for the electricity sector with a policy like the clean energy target is likely to require 66–75% of electricity to be supplied by renewables,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said. “If Australia adopts a weak clean energy target which does not provide a strong signal for renewables, we risk turning Australia’s moderate Paris targets into an extremely expensive task.
“While there are emissions reductions that can be made in all sectors of the economy, electricity generation is an area where the technology to make major emissions cuts is cheaper, and is here now.
“The Government has been consistent in its commitments to Australia’s international emissions targets. It remains to be seen if we choose to meet those Paris commitments the easy way, or the hard way.”
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