Solar, wind could replace all fossil fuels in Australia by 2040  

Posted by Big Gav in

RenewEconomy has an article on an ANU study of growth in renewable power generation in Australia - Solar, wind could replace all fossil fuels in Australia by 2040.

Solar and wind energy could replace all fossil fuels in Australia by 2040 if their recent rate of deployment is maintained and slightly increased over the next 27 years – delivering the country with a 100% renewable electricity grid “by default” as early as 2040.

The stunning conclusions come from research from Andrew Blakers, the director of the Australian National University’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems. It notes that nearly all new electricity generation capacity in recent years has been wind and solar photovoltaics (PV), and demand has also ben falling since 2008.

Blakers says that if this situation continues then Australia will achieve renewable electricity system by 2040, as existing fossil fuel power stations retire at the end of their service lives and are replaced with renewables.

And the cost will be no greater than having fossil fuels because, as Bloomberg New Energy Finance notes, wind is already cheaper than new coal or gas-fired generation and solar soon will be. These are the critical points – because renewables are often painted as expensive when compared to fully-depreciated, 40 years fossil fuel plants. But not compared with the new capacity required to replace ageing fossil fuel fleet.

Blakers says his scenario works even using the more conservative technology cost forecasts prepared by the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics. These forecasts are being updated, but they came to similar conclusions as BNEF on technology cost trends, just not quite as quickly.

The 100% by 2040 scenario is probably not that much different in scope to current trends. Australia was sitting at around 10 per cent renewables in 2010, and will probably end up with at least 25 per cent by 2020, given current trends on rooftop solar and the fixed 41,000GWh target for large scale renewables.

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