GetUp! and SolarCitizens’ Homegrown Power Plan has been making headlines around Australia since its release in April. Which is no surprise considering one of its main findings that Australia will save money by shifting to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Building on a lineage of renewable energy reports like those from Beyond Zero Emissions or the work of Professor Mark Diesendorf, the Homegrown Power Plan not only reiterates the feasibility of powering Australia entirely with renewable energy but it presents a policy program to get us there.
With the Federal Labor opposition announcing their support for the phase out of old coal generators, and the Andrews government about to set Victorian Renewable Energy Targets the wheels are already in motion towards embracing a new energy paradigm in Australia.
To get a greater insight into how this report came to be and its implications for Victoria, Yes 2 Renewables sat down for a chat with Miriam Lyons, head of GetUp’s renewable energy campaign and lead author of the Homegrown Power Plan.
What drove GetUp to produce this report?
Last September, a crash in Glencore’s share price triggered panic selling of mining and fossil fuel stocks, wiping billions off Australia’s stock market in a single day.
We could have just responded with a Facebook square. Instead we decided to team up with SolarCitizens and create a comprehensive policy blueprint for transitioning Australia to 100 percent renewable electricity. I’m glad we chose the latter.
Why is this report is so important?
We may have reached a Berlin Wall moment for the fossil fuel regime that has dominated Australian politics. Not only are renewables vastly more popular than fossil fuels, they’ve also won the economic race, with new-build wind cheaper than new build coal and solar set to catch up by the end of the decade.
We have an opportunity to shift from defence to offence on renewable energy. The time is right to shift from apologetically asking for what we think we can get, to enthusiastically demanding what we know every citizen deserves: a fast, fair and affordable transition to 100 percent renewable power.
We hope the Homegrown Power Plan will help people make that demand, with confidence that what we’re asking for is technically feasible, economically beneficial and politically popular.
What are the most important aspects of the report that differentiate it from others in this field?
It builds on the foundations of existing research, and makes two substantial new contributions. The report models pathways to 100 percent renewable energy, integrating energy production and demand across all sectors – from heating, industrial processes to transport.
The policy blueprint developed by myself and Nicky Ison shows how we can achieve a fast, fair, orderly and affordable transition to 100% renewable power by completely rebooting how our electricity system works.
By scaling up policies to support large-scale renewables, by expanding access to affordable clean energy to households who are currently locked out of the renewables boom, and by tackling the obstacles left behind by the old energy era, including the phase-out of coal-burning power stations we can make a just transition for both workers and communities.
How does the Australian political context effect renewable energy development?
In the report we describe the boom-bust cycle of renewable policy in Australia. We see every boom as a credit to the works of ordinary citizens banding together and demanding clean, climate-safe power.
Every bust is either due to the failure of politicians to recognise this popularity and thus ignore good policy design or worse succuming to the influence of big power companies.
The fossil fuel lobby’s influence over Australian politics is completely out of whack with its significance as an employer and its unpopularity with the majority of Australians. They’re cashed-up and well organised, but they’re on the back foot now.
With an Australian household installing rooftop solar every three minutes, the political constituency for more stable renewable policies is growing ever stronger.
How are states taking leadership to support renewables currently and what is working?
The ACT’s policy of 100 percent renewable power by 2025 has been hugely successful so far. In particular, their clean energy reverse auctions are doing a great job of driving down the cost of renewable energy. Its second wind auction achieved record low costs of $77 per megawatt hour. The South Australian government is also leading the way by committing to procure its own electricity from clean energy.
For well over two years, Yes 2 Renewables has led the community campaign for ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets to provide a lifeline for the sector amid Federal government attacks.
The Andrews government has committed to set Victorian Renewable Energy Targets for 2020 and 2025 in its forthcoming Renewable Energy Action Plan. It has made a baseline pledge of at least 20 percent by 2020.
Recently released Friends of the Earth research shows Victoria could achieve at least 30 percent renewable energy 2020 by building the wind farms that are on the books and maintaining a medium projection of solar growth.
The community is calling out for Premier Daniel Andrews to put Victoria on a pathway to 100 percent renewables. Adopting a strong 2020 target is the first step on that path.
Here are some simple things you can do to support VRET ambition…