The Pathway To A Decarbonised Australian Economy

A report released on Wednesday shows how Australia can decarbonise its economy while maintaining economic prosperity.

The Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050 was prepared by ClimateWorks Australia and the Australian National University; working with modelling from the CSIRO and Victoria University’s Centre for Policy Studies and the same tools utilised in other analyses such as those by Treasury and the Garnaut Review.

“The move to a low emissions electricity system can be developed with technologies that exist today. But we need to move faster – this report shows we’ll need at least 50% renewable electricity by 2030 to achieve a decarbonised electricity system in the time we have left to stay within the carbon budget,” said ClimateWorks Australia Executive Director, Anna Skarbek.

One scenario offered is where electricity is supplied solely from renewables, particularly solar with back-up thermal and battery storage. In this scenario, and taking into account the need to invest in back-up capacity to cover variable supply, solar becomes more profitable than wind power towards 2050.

“The cost of renewables such as solar is falling rapidly, meaning that incomes will increase faster than the price of electricity. With improved energy efficiency, this means households could have lower electricity bills than today, prior to any fuel switching,” said Ms Skarbek. The report states average household power bills could be reduced by 30%.

Frank Jotzo, Director of ANU Crawford School’s Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, said the report demonstrates how Australian resource industries can also continue to prosper; even with moving away from coal and other fossil fuels.

“Australia’s abundance of renewable energy opportunities could even provide a competitive advantage in a world that goes low carbon,” he said.

The report is part of the UN Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project that involves modelling teams from 15 major emitters and can be viewed in full here (PDF).