Hundreds of people attended the first leg of the 100% Renewables Roadshow in Adelaide on October 31, demonstrating strong community support for renewable energy in South Australia.
Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke spoke about their Homegrown Power Plan, which maps out a proposal for how Australia can get to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The key elements of the plan are “rebooting our electricity system”, including fixing outdated laws; repowering the country with renewable energy through market mechanisms that favour renewable energy and increasing funding sources; and removing the roadblocks to allow a phase out of coal with just transitions for workers.
While the focus was definitely skewed towards solar — Solar Citizens was formed as an interest group for solar panel owners — other technologies including solar thermal with storage, wind energy and tidal power were mentioned.
Bruce Mountain, an independent energy economist, gave a quick overview of the economics of the energy sector in South Australia. He gave a technical explanation of the recent state-wide blackouts, debunking the myth propagated by a number of prominent commentators and politicians that renewable energy was to blame.
The forum heard in turn from Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Labor MP Mark Butler and Liberal MP Dan van Holst Pellekaan, before they responded to a brief selection of written questions from the audience. A question about nuclear energy received the unanimous response from the panel that it was not economically viable or necessary, given South Australia’s strong solar and wind resources.
A question about whether the energy sector should be put back in public hands, given the inability of a privatised sector to put the needs of consumers and the environment before profits, was received with cheering and clapping from the audience. The answers from the panel were uninspiring, all echoing Mark Butler’s assertion that while privatisation may have been a bad idea at the time, it was not feasible to “put the toothpaste back in the tube”.
The forum concluded with a group photo opportunity and community members being encouraged to take actions including signing a petition, meeting with their local MP and volunteering with or donating to Solar Citizens.
[Community forums will be held in Melbourne, Armidale, Brisbane, Parramatta and Lismore throughout November; dates and information available at their website.]