100% Renewables in 10 Years

A guest post by Brisbane-based blogger Stuart McMillen.

What would it take to transition Australia’s electricity grid to 100% renewable energy in 10 years?

That is the question asked by the Beyond Zero Emissions group, who are a part of the exciting Transition Decade movement. Better still, they think they have an answer to the question.

The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 plan produced by Beyond Zero Emissions presents current, proven, commercially available technologies in a 60/40 split between solar thermal and wind to repower Australia. The plan maps the sites of the solar and wind modules to areas with appropriate sun and wind resources that are suitably close to major cities.

The upfront costs of the transition to renewable energy economy have been calculated, with a quoted figure of $35-40 billion per year for 10 years – the equivalent of 3-4% of Australia’s GDP. The group state that with the economies of scale associated with such a project, the cost of installing these solar and wind options are close to parity with that of coal power. The upside, of course, is we won’t have to deal with the many dirty consequences of coal mining and coal-fired power plants, and that we will have invested in a brand new grid of energy utilities that requires no fuel inputs.

Beyond Zero Emissions are keen to take on the might of the fossil fuel lobby, who have long run a scare campaign about renewable energy: specifically that renewables are too expensive, can’t provide baseload power, will cost jobs and will ‘wreck the economy’. Level-headed analysis dismisses those claims as scare tactics by vested interests.

T10 Launch - Mark Ogge from Transition Decade on Vimeo.

The T10 plan show that there are no resource constraints (steel, concrete, glass, labour, etc) that are holding us back from a 100% renewable energy grid in one decade’s time. Personally, I think there are just three things holding us back:

  • community members who have not been informed that such economical clean energy alternatives exist and are ready to be deployed
  • politicians stuck in the ‘coal, coal, coal’ mindset who have not been shown a vision of the benefits that a transition to renewable energy would provide for the economy and society
  • environmentally informed citizens who are not doing all that they can do to make this plan succeed (I raise my hand to this category)

Please take ten minutes to watch the above video, and please help spread the word of this credible plan. We need this issue on the agenda in the lead-up to the 2010 federal election.