The Australian has an article on a forthcoming report by the Australian Academy of Science on renewable energy - Green power feasible.
The report, titled Australia's Renewable Energy Future, puts the scientific might of the academy up against sceptics claiming that renewables cannot meet baseload energy needs.
It challenges assumptions underlying an economic model of renewable energy take-up developed by the CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics on the grounds they are too conservative. In the virtual futures generated in the modelling, geothermal and solar thermal would remain as only minor components in Australia's energy mix until 2040.
The model could not capture recent technological advances and the stimulatory impact of government intervention, Professor Dopita said. In the real world, it risked becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, helping to reinforce a focus on fossil fuel in policy formulation.
"We can change the way we do business entirely by stimulating those new industries, getting them past the economic thresholds that make them appear to be uncompetitive with coal," he said. "If you give the appropriate financial incentives early on, the whole thing snowballs. As the technology accrues the advantages of scale, it becomes self-sustaining and provides new employment and export opportunities."
The academy estimates Australia has enough accessible geothermal energy to meet 26,000 years of its power needs. More than 30 companies aim to deliver geothermal energy to the grid, the renewable energy report says.
However, the accessible geothermal resource is concentrated in granite formations in the outback. To cut energy losses in getting the hot rock power to the cities, the government would need to invest billions of dollars in a high-voltage direct current long-distance electricity transmission system.