Electricity from renewable sources could be supplying all of Australia’s non-transport energy within a decade, using commercially available technology. This use of 100% electricity produced by renewables, is technically feasible, affordable and reliable.
Report released 2010
Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE)
- Build electricity generators using “concentrating solar thermal with heat storage” technology to supply about 58% of Australian electricity. These generators use sunlight to heat molten salt. The molten salt stores the heat, which can then be used, as needed, to boil water which drives steam turbines generating electricity. This is established technology, already used overseas, at the Gemasolar plant in Spain, and the Crescent Dunes plant in Nevada USA. They generate electricity on demand day or night, providing a secure energy supply.
- Build wind turbines to supply about 39% of the electricity
- Use hydroelectricity and the burning of crop waste to supply the remaining 2% of electricity
- Upgrade the national electricity grid, joining several now separate grids
- Construct this over ten years
Praise from Malcolm Turnbull at the launch
At the launch in 2010, the now Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said:
“I believe our long-term global goal is to, very substantially, reduce our emissions, a goal that will require almost all of our energy to be produced from zero, or very near zero, emission sources … The work they [Beyond Zero Emissions and the Melbourne Energy Institute] have done is important. … It provides the most comprehensive technical blueprint yet for what our engineers, our scientists can begin to do for us tomorrow. … A zero emission future … is absolutely essential if we are to leave a safe planet to our children and the generations that come after them.”
(Video and transcript of launch)
Video of Malcomb Turnbull at the launch
BZE’s initial cost estimate was $AU 370 billion over a ten-year period, or $8 per household per week. The average $37 billion a year is about 3% of Gross Domestic Product. It’s about the same as our spending on defence.
A subsequent cost estimate was 10% lower as:
- the expected demand for electricity has reduced, and
- the expected electricity generation from domestic solar panels has increased.
Modelling of the reliability of power supply
Our research included detailed modelling to guide the planned mix of generators and storage. The modelling was based on hour-by-hour data, from recent years, for electricity demand, available wind and available sunlight. It confirmed that the planned system was sufficient to reliably meet the electricity demand.
Independent research reaches similar conclusions
Since the release of the Stationary Energy Plan in 2010, two independent studies support the BZE research.
(1) The Australian Energy Market Operator performed its own detailed analysis (AEMO Report: 2013). This showed that several scenarios of 100% renewables in the National Electricity Market are feasible and affordable.
Energy costs of business-as-usual no cheaper than 100% renewables
(Renew Economy: 5 August 2013)
100% renewables for Australia not so costly after all
(Renew Economy: 29 April 2013)
(2) Researchers from the University of New South Wales did a simulation study, (Elliston, Diesendorf, and MacGill: 2011). This showed that commercially available technologies could generate renewable electricity to meet 100% of Australian 2010 demand.
Benefits of this strategic investment
This strategic investment would:
- Avoid the fuel costs of future electricity generation from coal, gas and diesel
- Decrease the cost to Australia of petrol, diesel and gas used for transport, as electric transport increases
- Reduce the costs, to electricity generators, of any future price on carbon dioxide emissions
- Reduce the health hazards associated with pollutants from coal and oil, and
- Reduce the use of limited water resources
- Reduce the impacts of climate change, as similar measures are adopted around the globe
Where you can get the Plan
What have people said about the plan
Our partner in this research
Zero Carbon Australia: Stationary Energy Plan
First Edition 2010,
Second Edition 2011
Published by the
Melbourne Energy Institute
University of Melbourne
Frequently Asked Questions
Read the Frequently Asked Questions (pdf file)
Non-technical language and diagrams further explain our plan to unhook Australia’s energy needs from fossil fuels in ten years.
The FAQ covers:
- What is the basis for the costs in the Plan?
- Can it really get that cheap?
- Can renewable energy really supply 100% of demand reliably?
- Is 17 hours storage enough?
- What if there are several cloudy days in a row?
- What about other renewables, e.g. geothermal, wave, offshore wind?
- Why only wind power and concentrating solar thermal?
- What about other zero emission energy technologies?
- How Australia’s energy use can go from almost 4000 PJ/yr, to less than 2000
- How can this be done without decreasing our quality of life?
- Isn’t wind too variable?
- Won’t it always require backup?
- What about the extra investments that need to be made in efficiency and electrification?
- How will an electric transport system work?
- What about long-distance transport?
- Don’t electric vehicles have a poor range?
- What about the local environmental impacts on land and water use
- Could you get it done in ten years?
- Wind farms and transmission lines currently take several years just to get through the planning & permitting stages?
- What about people working in traditional fossil fuel industries?
100% renewable energy plan Australia
Exclusively sustainable stationary energy plan
Zero emissions plan, low emissions plan
solar energy, wind energy