AUSTRALIA could build a low-carbon economy based on solar, wind and geothermal power by the middle of the century for less than half the cost of the Federal Government’s economic stimulus package, says a report commissioned by WWF Australia.
As Earth Hour approaches, the event’s organiser, WWF, is trying to shift debate back to what it sees as the modest cost of turning Australia into a society based on renewable power. Many industry groups argue that moving away from cheap fossil-fuel energy would damage manufacturing and employment. The WWF-commissioned report calculates the price for transforming the nation’s energy base, using technology that exists, would be $28 billion between 2010 and 2050 – less than half the Government’s stimulus handout, but spread over 40 years.
It was prepared by Climate Risk, a corporate analyst that advises the federal and local governments and businesses on climate modelling. It shows that a transition to renewable power is affordable, but that the proposed carbon trading scheme and renewable energy target could not achieve it. Extra government investment in energy of about $100 million a year from 2010 would be enough to make solar, wind and geothermal power dominant in the electricity and manufacturing sectors by the middle of the century.
One of the authors, Dr Karl Mallon, said: “What we’re trying to do is look past the current debate and take a nuts-and-bolts view, an industry and engineering approach, on what we would have to build and how it could be paid for. “We’re talking about building new electricity generation on the scale of new Snowy hydro schemes, which create lots of jobs but need very firm government direction. The market would never have built a Snowy scheme because of the investment risk.”
Paul Toni of WWF Australia said: “Earth Hour shows that millions of Australians want this government to act to battle climate change. This report shows they can. ” Earth Hour is supported by 217 towns and cities in Australia. The WWF says hundreds of millions of people around the world will turn off lights and appliances on Saturday week to show support for action against climate change.