Sunday, June 15, 2008

Greenpeace sees coal era over by 2030

By environment reporter Sarah Clarke

ABC Online, Posted 1 hour 38 minutes ago

Burning out? Greenpeace says the coal industry could be phased out in 22 years. (Steve Roe)

Greenpeace says green renewable energy can be cheaper, cleaner, and create more jobs than fossil fuels.

The organisation also says that if the alternative energy is embraced now, it could see the phasing out of coal use by 2030.

In a new report titled Australia's Energy Revolution, the group says the right recipe would deliver 40 per cent of Australia's energy from a clean source within a decade.

It has found that Australia has more than enough sun and wind to power the nation's energy needs long term.

Professor Hugh Saddler, a specialist in energy needs, conducted the modelling and says his findings are only conservative.

"That's what is technically feasible, certainly," he said.

"I think it will require some big changes in policy and big redirections of resources but the resource is such that that's quite feasible and the companies that are involved with the various technologies certainly think that is achievable."

He also says Australia could cut its carbon emissions from transport and energy by two-thirds by 2050.

The recipe he uses is a large-scale roll-out of electric vehicles, setting strict fuel-efficiency standards to deliver more efficient cars and cutting aviation demands by improving rail networks.

On electricity consumption he says by enforcing simple efficiency measures, energy use could be reduced by 10 per cent in just over a decade, by 2020.

If this is achieved, Professor Saddler says renewable power could adequately meet demand and the cost per household would in fact be cheaper.

"We don't think that the total costs for all the electricity will go up because there is so much potential for increased energy efficiency, which is cost effective even now, let alone with the higher cost of electricity that will come with emissions trading," he said.

"Although the price per kilowatt hour for each unit of electricity consumed will be higher, the total cost of all the kilowatt hours consumed will be less because it's being used more efficiently."

By embracing solar and wind energy the report has found that coal-fired power stations could be phased out entirely by 2030.

The recommendation is bold, given the Federal Government is yet to legislate its target of 20 per cent of Australia's energy to be renewable by 2020.

But Julien Vincent from Greenpeace says this report shows it can be done and he says the political will to take the next step is all that is needed.

"It's ridiculous that a country with enough renewable energy resources to power half of Asia still bases its electricity supply on dirty fossil fuels," he said.

"By increasing the amount of renewable energy in the mix by driving energy efficiency quite significantly we can start taking the dirtiest fossil fuels such as coal off the grid."

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