renewable energy

Generating electricity using renewable energy is now cheaper than using fossil fuels, but mining companies, banks and governments in Australia continue to invest significantly more in coal, oil and gas than wind and solar. 

The list of things renewable energy can be blamed for received a creative contribution from little-known Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly on November 7 when he linked renewable energy with child drownings.

His argument went like this: environmentalists promote renewable energy policies; renewable energy will drive up the cost of electricity; public swimming pools require electricity to filter and heat; higher electricity prices mean pools will have to either cut swimming lessons or charge more for them; fewer children will learn to swim; therefore, more children will drown.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on October 25 that last year, thanks to cost reductions and significant policy support in key countries, renewables have surpassed coal to become the largest source of installed power in the world. This has prompted the IEA to significantly boost its five-year forecast for renewable energy growth.

Wind and solar may be leading the way in Australia’s renewable energy race, but there’s another contender lurking in the nation’s oceans.

[Ross Garnaut is a Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. In 2007 he was appointed to examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy and recommend medium to long-term policies and policy frameworks to improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity. The Garnaut Climate Change Review was finalised on September 30, 2008, with an update released on May 31, 2011. This is a speech given by Garnaut to the renewable energy summit hosted by the South Australian government on October 6.]

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Power is gradually returning to South Australia after wild storms blew across the state last night, but some areas could be offline for days. The storm — associated with heavy rain, lightning, and severe winds — damaged transmission lines that carry electricity from power generators to people, causing a state-wide blackout.

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill told ABC radio “the system operated as it was meant to operate”.

In 2000, renewable energy made up just 6.3% of Germany's electricity. By last year, it had risen to 31%. Cloudy Germany became a leading innovator in solar energy. It did so not by subsidising large power utility companies, but by mobilising hundreds of thousands into energy cooperatives. The two legs of this democratic energy transition are Germany's commitment to phase out nuclear power and its feed-in tariffs, which allowed small renewable energy producers to sell their electricity.
Protesters gathered in Melbourne on August 8 to urge the replacement Hazelwood Power Station with renewable energy. Australia's dirtiest power station, Hazelwood is owned by Engie France and Mitsui Japan. According to the OECD it is one of the world's most polluting power stations, both in terms of the toxic cocktail of chemicals it daily emits and its carbon emissions. Hazelwood is also Australia's least efficient power station and a major consumer of water: 1.31 megalitres of water is consumed per gigawatt hour of power generated.
The Victorian Labor government has announced an “ambitious and achievable” Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET). This target will commit the state to generating 25% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, and 40% by 2025.
A new Climate Council report card on the renewable energy progress of Australia's states and territories finds South Australia and the ACT are topping the class. NSW received the worst grade due to its low and falling percentage of renewable energy, no renewable energy target and low levels of rooftop solar.

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