Good life hinges on more renewables

An increase of 1 to 2 degrees centigrade in temperature can lead to a 35 per cent decrease in water supply between 2005 and 2050 and further increases in temperature could make Australia virtually unlivable for many people due to extreme heat, flooding and disease, says Russell Prendergast of LG Electronics. That’s why renewable energy – including rooftop PV – is a critical factor in the mission to drive down emissions and ensure a high standard of livability for future generations.

Writing in Winter Solar and Storage magazine, Russell notes Australia’s current population stands at just over 24 million. By 2061, Australian Bureau of Statistics projects a doubling of that figure, taking the population to 48.3 million. At the rate we currently consume energy, overall energy consumption would be more than 275 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent).

This is equivalent to the combined 2016 energy consumption of Mexico and Argentina – total population over 170 million.

By 2100, the same ABS study projects a population more than 70 million, bringing our total energy consumption to 400Mtoe based on current per capita energy consumption.

The only countries currently consuming more energy are China, the USA, India and Japan.

Although the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy forecasts a halving of CO2 emissions per capita between 2005 and 2030, we would be back at current levels a decade later unless we continue to aggressively decrease emissions.

We cannot rely on regulation alone to force the market towards renewables. It’s likely that any direct government investment in renewables would be taxpayer funded, taking a similar form to the levy introduced in Germany. Increasing the already high cost of energy would have an impact on many households and businesses.

Under the NEG, the government predicts between 28-36 per cent of Australia’s energy mix would be powered by renewables. The issue, as the Climate Council states, is that this is below the 40 per cent Clean Energy Target set by the Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, and less than the 50 per cent target the Climate Council believes is necessary to combat severe climate change.

Professor Andrew Blakers says solar PV and wind energy offer the only realistic chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.

Solar photovoltaic and wind power are rapidly getting cheaper and more abundant – so much so that they are on track to entirely supplant fossil fuels worldwide within two decades, with the time frame depending mostly on politics.

The reality is that the rising tide of solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy offers our only realistic chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.

No other greenhouse solution comes close, and it is very hard to envision any timely response to climate change that does not involve PV and wind doing most of the heavy lifting.

We will have sunshine and wind for billions of years to come. It is very hard to imagine humanity going to war over sunlight.

Read more in Winter Solar and Storage.

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