Producing electricity is Australia’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Electricity production was responsible for a third of emissions in 2021. Transforming the energy system is the foundation of Australia’s journey to net zero, as we move away from fossil fuels toward a future powered by our sun and wind.
By 2030 our electricity sector must run on 100% renewable energy, while also growing to meet a significant increase (approximately 40%) in demand from electrification in buildings, transport and industry. To transform the energy system we need to build the infrastructure capable of transporting much higher volumes of renewable electricity across the system, increase energy storage, upskill tens of thousands of workers for a zero-emissions economy, and establish a national authority that ensures no workers or communities are left behind in the rapid change.
Think of it like storing water in a dam, so whenever we want water it comes out of the tap. Energy storage varies in scale: smaller batteries at a household level, community batteries, and grid-scale storage like pumped hydro (e.g. Snowy Hydro 2.0) and big batteries (e.g. The Victorian Big Battery).
By 2023 the Federal Government should put a mandated Renewable Energy Storage Target in place to increase energy storage across the grid. It needs to include specific targets for the extra storage needed each year up to 2030. This doesn’t require re-inventing the wheel. A mandated Renewable Energy Storage Target can be implemented quickly and easily by modelling it off similar mechanisms that have been in place for years to encourage renewable energy uptake. Alongside this mandated storage target, Demand Reduction Targets could be put in place by States and Territories to encourage energy efficiency and help balance the system as it undergoes this one-in-a-century change.
Solar developers, unions, not for profits and training organisations will partner to provide apprenticeship readiness programs and community-led training partnerships. This will rapidly boost the clean energy workforce while ensuring the benefits of good, green jobs are shared across the community.
Communities and workers around the country will experience this change differently, and to different degrees. We must ensure that those most directly impacted by the energy transition are supported and empowered in designing what this looks like for their community.
At least 70% – and possibly all – of our coal generators could retire by 2030, even without active intervention to bring this about. By establishing a National Energy Transition Authority we can plan for and manage well this transformation of our energy system. In particular, workers and regions centred around the fossil fuel industry and proposed Renewable Energy Zones should be supported.
The Federal Government must establish a National Energy Transition Authority to plan for and maximise the benefits from Australia’s energy transformation. By 2024, firm closure dates need to be set for Australia’s fleet of coal-fired power stations, alongside the development of station specific transition plans for these workers and regional communities. The Authority would facilitate extensive collaboration across all levels of government, and with Regional Transition Authorities – working to support the strengths and priorities of communities and reinforce existing efforts without duplicating or overriding these. Regional Transition Authorities are established in areas where fossil fuel power stations are in the process of closing, such as the existing La Trobe Valley Authority in VIC, Hunter Expert Panel in NSW and Collie Delivery Unit in WA)