The Climate Commission’s ‘The Critical Decade: Generating A Renewable Australia’ was released Monday, summarising the state of renewable energy in Australia and its potential.
The Climate Commission’s 15th report, it says the Australian economy could be powered almost entirely by renewable energy within the next few decades, assuming appropriate policies and support are in place.
Electricity generation is still the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, accounting for approximately 35%.
The report states Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any country in the world. Even areas receiving low solar radiation levels by Australian standards still receive more than the world’s solar powerhouse, Germany.
“With Australia’s world class solar resources, we have a unique opportunity. However, at present solar makes up less than 1% of Australia’s total electricity generation,” states the report.
“As the technology is further developed and costs continue to decrease, there is potential and need for solar generation in Australia to grow rapidly.”
The report notes in parts of Australia where electricity prices are high, rooftop solar PV may already be the cheapest form of power for retail users.
Information from national solar provider Energy Matters indicates that in most parts of Australia, this is already the case. A 3kW solar panel system the company is currently showcasing works out to generate electricity at a cost of under 6c per kilowatt hour including the price of the system and installation.
The Climate Commission’s report states in order to give the world a fighting chance at reining in temperature rises to just 2C – still an amount that would see many negative impacts – global emissions will need to be “very near zero by 2050, only 38 years away.”
“The challenge in front of us now is to turn the enormous potential of renewable energy into implementation at a large scale, as rapidly as we can,” concludes the report. “This is the critical decade to get on with the job.”
The Critical Decade: Generating A Renewable Australia can be viewed in full here (PDF).