According to new research from the Net Zero Australia project, the country will need to triple the National Electricity Market’s power capacity by the end of this decade to be on track for net zero by 2050. That would require accelerating the rollout of wind and solar power, transmission, storage, electric vehicles, and heat pumps to replace Australia’s coal fleet.
The Net Zero Australia project happens in partnership among the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment at Princeton University, and management consultancy Nous Group.
According to Professor Robin Batterham from the University of Melbourne, who chairs the Net Zero Australia Steering Committee, the project has established a new benchmark in analyzing what is needed in order to decarbonize Australia’s economy and exports.
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“Our results are unprecedented in their detail, rigor and transparency,” he said. “Our aim is to inform the national debate with better evidence about the diverse preferences of the Australian community.” Batterham also said the potential pathways to decarbonization include renewables only, or different combinations of renewables and low-emission uses of fossil fuels, as well as different rates of energy electrification, or even the use of nuclear energy.
“We are not pushing a preferred pathway, rather we are illustrating a range of potential pathways,” he said.
The project’s results and assumptions are publicly available for use by the government, the business and other communities. The research offers projections for potential power sources, mapping of possible land use change, and analysis of abatement from farming.
According to Professor Michael Brear, Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne, renewables and electrification, together with a major expansion of transmission lines and storage are instrumental to achieving net zero. That would require a significant increase in permanent CO2 storage, he also said.
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