Ninety per cent renewable energy by 2040? Here’s how Australia can do it

Australia has the potential to source 90% of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2040, without having to increase wholesale prices. 

This new finding comes from RepuTex, an insight and analyst provider for the Australian electricity market.

RepuTex said that in order to hit this target, stronger federal government policies around investment in renewable energy would need to be introduced. 

This means encouraging state-based policies and working toward renewable energy targets (RET). RepuTex believes this alone would create 17 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity, 4GW of rooftop solar and 3.5GW of storage. 

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At the moment, Australia is set to have 50% of its electricity generated by renewable energy by 2030 and 75% by 2040, without solid federal policies.

And while those are impressive figures, the analysis found that without proper policies in place, wholesale electricity prices are expected to rise after 10 years. 

“As new renewable energy and storage projects such as Snowy 2.0 are commissioned, along with the continued uptake of small-scale resources, traditional volumes for black coal and gas-fired capacity are likely to be eroded,” said RepuTex’s head of research, Bret Harper.

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In order to avoid the price increase, RepuTex has proposed a challenging idea, called the ‘Step Change’ scenario. 

The Step Change scenario calls for a more ‘aggressive’ approach to climate change and assumes that faster technology cost reductions for zero/low emissions technologies would increase the uptake of clean energy sources beyond current federal expectations. 

“The most interesting thing is we can have this decarbonised energy system and it won’t cost any more,” said Harper. 
“In fact, it costs slightly less. Just in the last year even, energy storage costs have really come down, whether it’s battery or pumped hydro.”
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