No Need for Fossil Fuel in 40 Years

24 July 2010

Ray Wills, CEO
Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA)

The WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) welcomes the Greens policy announcement today that “Australia can be a renewable energy powerhouse, harnessing our tremendous resources of sun, wind, wave, earth and human ingenuity to replace our reliance on coal with 100% renewable energy within decades”.

WA SEA, Australia’s largest energy industry chamber, agrees.

While other promises surfacing election consider modest measures for a sustainable future, the rest of the planet is consistently turning to renewable energy to provide power on a scale that is unprecedented in the fossil fuel age.

In a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century on 15 July 2010, renewable generation is now 25% of world electricity generation.

Almost 50% of new generation built around the globe last year (2009) was renewable energy. Globally, about 80 gigawatts of renewable power capacity was built in 2009, compared to 83 gigawatts of fossil fuel plants.

China added almost half of the total with 37 gigawatts of renewable energy last year, making China the world’s leader in renewable energy generation.

Clean energy accounted for 60 percent of new capacity in Europe, and more than half of new power generation in the U.S.

Alternative power now accounts for about a quarter of global generating capacity, or 1,230 gigawatts out of 4,800 gigawatts.

What about Australia?

Australia averages around 8% renewable energy generation (and Western Australia about 5%).

In a year that saw almost 50% of projects in the rest of the world go renewable, as at October 2009, non-renewable electricity generation projects accounted for around 76% of planned additional capacity – according to ABARE data.

Australia doesn’t get it.

‘Australians stand on a beach looking to the sea, seeing off a coal cargo ship and ever hopeful of a new gas reserve offshore, with the sun shining down on us, the wind in our faces, the waves crashing on the shore. It appears we can’t see the renewable forest for the fossil trees,’ says Prof Wills.

‘We must fundamentally change the way we think about energy and how we do business.’

‘Traditional economic commentators and traditional politics is focussed on sticking on the well-worn path, to the middle of the road. With the rush to conservative economics, we are missing the obvious opportunity to Australian markets. Australia is the Middle East of renewable energy and we are failing to harvest the energy bonanza for the benefit of the Australian economy and that will ultimately prove to be to the advantage of Australia’s export industries,’ says Prof Wills.

‘Our nation must ramp up use of Australia’s massive renewable energy resource for the benefit of the economy and all Australians.’

‘We need to take action; the rest of the world is already ahead. Renewable energy sources that will dominate generation in every nation in the 21st Century because renewable energy will deliver on both energy security and on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions’ says Prof Wills.

Editors notes:

1. United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21)

2. Greens statement on 100% renewable energy by 2050 

3. ABARE’s list of major electricity generation development projects

4. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of enterprises has a growing membership of over 340 industry members from a diversity of businesses. WA SEA is the largest energy industry body in Australia.

5. WA SEA bringing you the Energising SE Asia Conference 23-26 March 2011, Perth.

< Back to Blogs