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Renewable Energy for Monaro — when do we want it?

wind farm generic

Queanbeyan audience hears Monaro could repower the state for less cost then new coal

WHILE THE CURRENT government is busy turning off the lights and committing Australia to another decade of coal-powered darkness, around the country the electorate is moving on with the push for cleaner and more reliable energy.

In our own region, recent polling of over 600 residents across the Monaro electorate revealed that 80% of voters want a transition to clean 100% energy by 2030.

Local renewables lobby group, Repower Monaro, is determined to make climate change and clean renewable energy a key issue in upcoming state and federal elections. They will be sending a message to all candidates that the Monaro region is looking for leaders who are prepared to take urgent action on climate change and renewable energy.

Last Wednesday (21 November 2018) at the Queanbeyan Tigers Club a community forum organised by Repower Monaro discussed options for a transition to 100% renewable energy in our region.

Repower Monaro speakersSpeakers included Dr John Hewson (centre), former leader of the Liberal Party, President of Climate Action Monaro Jenny Goldie, and Dr Andrew Blakers, ANU research scientist specialising in renewable energy generation and storage.

Jenny Goldie, believes there are three very good reasons to adopt clean sources of energy as soon as we can:

  1. Health – 279 NSW residents are dying each year as a direct result of emissions from fossil fuel power sources.
  2. Economic – it is well demonstrated that energy from wind and solar sources are increasingly cheaper than either coal or gas.
  3. Climate change – the effects of climate change now present the greatest existential threat to human civilisation as we know it and the impacts are happening faster than originally predicted

“What is being done in Australia to address these issues at a federal level?” she asked.

“Short of throwing lumps of coal around parliament house and telling us not to worry, the current government is doing very little. Leaving coal in the ground and transitioning to more renewable sources of energy is the only way we are going to get out of this mess,” she said.

Optimism for Australia?

Wind, solar photovoltaics (PV) and pumped hydro
will allow the National Electricity Market to reach
100% renewable electricity with
high reliability and at modest cost.

ANU researcher, Dr Andrew Blakers, was a bit more optimistic, and said that despite government inaction, transformation of the energy landscape in Australia was accelerating, and would soon be happening at a faster rate than elsewhere in the world.

Research at the ANU confirms that wind, solar photovoltaics (PV) and off-river pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) will allow the National Electricity Market to reach 100% renewable electricity with high reliability and at modest cost.

Wind and PV will replace retiring coal and gas plant at lower cost than the alternative replacement (new coal and gas).

“The Monaro region is blessed with great potential for pumped hydro and has excellent wind and solar opportunities,” he said, “and without making heroic assumptions, we can supply enough renewable energy for the state for less than the cost of building new coal-fired power stations.”

“Renewables may be our last hope to deal with climate change, but it is a very good last hope,” he said.

> Further information regarding ANU research into options for 100% renewable energy in Australia.

John Hewson: voters will judge politicians on climate change action

Ex Liberal leader, Dr John Hewson told the audience that since leaving parliament he has become increasingly puzzled, disturbed and angry by the lack of progress on climate change, and the short-term self-interest of our current leaders.

“As a climate activist since the 1990’s I have been working with business to identify and address the business risks of climate change, he said, “Australia has an enormous opportunity to create jobs and lead the world in renewable energy, however the current government is squandering our potential.”

He pointed to the recent Wentworth by-election and expected that a significant number of voters in other electorates will view the next election as an opportunity to register a protest vote against the current government.

Minna Featherstone, Community Organiser for the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, said that the by-election results sent a powerful message to politicians that Australian communities want action on climate change and clean energy.

In the lead up to the next election Repower Monaro will be conducting an extensive door knocking campaign to help people identify which candidates are committed to action on renewable energy and climate change.

“The fact that the NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro holds a slim and shrinking majority of just 1300 voters might make him more inclined to listen to community sentiment regarding climate change and renewable power,” she pondered.

Labor both federally and at the NSW level has in November come out with strong commitments to support renewables and (nationally) target a 50% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in the next 30 years.

MAIN IMAGE: Dreamstime, Creative Commons Zero (CC0).  INSET: Supplied.

 


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