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Sustainable energy 'could power all of Australia'

1st Nov 2012

Australia has enough natural sustainable resources to power the entire country, new data has shown.

And this isn't just any data. This is from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) itself - an organisation that has a vested interest in the gas and electricity sectors.

Tasked by the government with seeing how feasible it would be to switch entirely to renewable energy in the future, AEMO carried out a modelling exercise - with some interesting results.

The current National Electricity Market is about 200 terawatt-hours, and the survey found this quite achievable through sustainable options.

In fact, it totally blew it out of the water.

The findings were buried in an energy update by the organisation that read: "The study shows there is potential to produce around 500 times that [total] if all possible sources of renewable energy available across eastern and south-eastern Australia were tapped into."

Not only this, but AEMO followed some pretty strict parameters, including disregarding any land with an incline of more than one per cent from being considered for solar power.

It also ignored large areas of South Australia and Queensland.

AEMO declined to comment on the results, instead forwarding on queries to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Interestingly, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesman for energy minister Greg Combet also failed to give a direct response to the study.

Instead, he said: "The Labor government has long recognised the significant and under-utilised renewable energy potential which Australia possesses."

Matthew Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions, said more people are finally beginning to understand the full potential of Australia's renewable energy resources.

He described the country as the Saudi Arabia of sustainable power.

"The only difference being that Saudi Arabia doesn't have enough oil to satisfy the world's oil demand whereas Australia has a renewable energy resource ... that can satisfy the entire world's electrical demand."

Other industry experts held similar views, with the chair of the Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association Andrew Want claiming that it is hardly news that the country has enough resources to make the shift to 100 per cent renewables.

The question is whether people are willing to demand from the country's leaders new policies that will be able to harness these advantages, he added.

AEMO is due to release a report on the study in March next year, but did not wish to elaborate on the results at this time.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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