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A new study from the Australian National University suggests that a 100% renewable energy electricity grid for Australia is not only possible, it would be a significantly cheaper option than the current coal and gas-powered network.

The study, by energy experts Andrew Blakers, Bin Lu and Matthew Stocks, proposed a mix of solar PV and wind energy, backed up by pumped hydro as the cheapest option for Australia.

Under intense lobbying by big electricity companies, the Tony Abbott government is attempting to scrap the Renewable Energy Target (RET) which aims to have 20% of Australia’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2020. In response to this threat, a new community group called Solar Citizens is campaigning to defend existing solar power and extend solar to even more households. They have held public meetings in Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
Right now, there is an opportunity to slash Australia’s carbon emissions by 5 million tonnes a year in one stroke. The city of Port Augusta in South Australia has all the right conditions to make it Australia’s first baseload renewable energy hub. The two coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta are getting old. Industry experts say they may be forced to close as soon as 2015.
The NSW government has decided to cut the solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff from 60 cents per kilowatt hour (kW/h) to 20 cents per kW/h. The October 27 announcement came after the tariff received a strong uptake, particularly in Sydney’s western suburbs and rural NSW. The total capacity once remaining orders are connected will be around 193 megawatts (MW). The Greens and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) slammed the decision to axe the tariff.
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