Greens set 90% renewables target for 2030, aim to double efficiency of grid | RenewEconomy

Greens set 90% renewables target for 2030, aim to double efficiency of grid

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Greens unveil plan for a 90 per cent renewable energy target – by 2030. Leader Richard di Natale says major parties have locked the country into industries of the last century, supporting coal and vested interests.

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The Australian Greens have committed to a renewable energy target for Australia of at least 90 per cent by 2030, and to create a $1 billion fund to transition the nation’s energy sector away from coal.

In the party’s new energy roadmap to be released on Sunday, known as Renew Australia, the Greens also promises to deliver an electricity grid in 2030 that twice as efficient as it is now, and deliver a 15 year pipeline of clean energy projects through a combination of reverse auctions and direct investment.

The target is far more ambitious than those of the mainstream parties, which agreed to reduce the 2020 target for renewable energy to the equivalent of around 23.5 per cent. Labor has since a 50 per cent target for 2030, although it has not stated how it would achieve that, while the Coalition has yet to announce any post 2020 targets. Former prime minister Tony Abbott described 23.5 per cent as “more than enough.”

greens generation mixUnder the Greens plan, the party would establish a $500 million government authority, itself called RenewAustralia, that would drive the transformation, with the goal of leveraging $5 billion of construction in new energy generation over the next four years.

This new authority would work alongside Australia’s existing industry drivers, the Greens say, including the CSIRO, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, while also working with new energy companies to bring clean technology innovation right through to full deployment and ready for export.

The Greens would also introduce pollution standards, that would drive the “gradual, staged closure” of Australia’s coal power plants, starting with Halewood in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley – the electricity sector’s single biggest polluter.

The plan also includes driving down renewable energy costs and creating a skilled, clean energy workforce through a staged pipeline of construction projects over the next 15 years.

“Transitioning to clean energy is the key to unlocking Australia’s economic potential and combating global warming,” said Greens leader Richard di Natale.

“While both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten talk about tackling climate change, they have locked us into the industries of the last century, supporting coal and vested interests.

“Charting a course for a more confident, prosperous and healthy Australia needs much more than empty rhetoric, it needs real leadership. RenewAustralia is not just an ambitious vision for our country, it’s the blueprint for making it happen,” he said.

Australian Greens deputy and climate spokesperson, Larissa Waters, Australia could, and must, transform one of the dirtiest energy systems in the world to one of the cleanest.

“Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t deserve to be applauded simply for not being Tony Abbott. If Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t take anything stronger to the UN Climate Summit than Tony Abbott’s pathetic emissions targets then it will be a disastrous failure of leadership,” said Senator Waters.

The Greens’ Plan will:

• Ensure that energy generation is at least 90% renewable by 2030 and double our energy efficiency by 2030;

• Establish a new $500 million government authority – RenewAustralia – tasked with planning and driving the transition to a new clean energy system to leverage $5 billion of construction in new energy generation over the next four years;

• Create a $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund to assist coal workers and communities with the transition;

• Implement pollution standards to enable the gradual, staged closure of coal fired power stations, starting with Australia’s dirtiest – Hazelwood.

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  1. GregX 5 years ago

    Great plan and looking forward to breathing clean air. Surprisingly no mention of moving cars and trucks to renewable energy?

    • Jake Schoermer 5 years ago

      I was at the announcement today. Adam Bandt said that this was the first stage of the policy suite ahead of the election and that more detailed policies on several sub-areas including electric vehicles and helping get renters into community solar would be announced before the next election.

      • GregX 5 years ago

        Thanks Jake.

  2. Ray Miller 5 years ago

    I support the plan at least this plan comes close to what we should be achieving in emissions reduction and transitioning into a 21 centenary energy system. I hope the plan includes a major overall of the failed NEM and wrenching it out of the hands of the current energy industry players who have been complicit in rigging the rules in their favour.
    The plan must also include the revolution in energy efficiency to complement the renewables at the same time innovating the grid to be the enabling system which takes advantage of the distributed generation and storage systems.

  3. digicle 5 years ago

    Did this Greens announcement actually get Reneweconomy out of bed on a Sunday? – Gobsmacked

    • Giles 5 years ago

      No, we can file from anywhere, bed included.

      • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

        hi Giles I believe the live streaming was only to MP offices. did you have aspherical link or just working off the press release? are their links to a policy document anywhere?

  4. Farmer Dave 5 years ago

    This sounds like a good plan. It will be interesting to see how the media treat it. The Sunday night ABC television news bulletin did not mention it.

  5. Paul McArdle 3 5 years ago

    Thanks Sophie and Giles

    With 200,000 GWh of generation forecast to come from solar PV and wind by 2030 in this scenario, this would be exceeding the 10x case I looked at in this analysis here:

    Does the Greens paper have much to say about the level of storage that would be required to make this work + how this storage would be integrated into the market?


    • Alastair Leith 5 years ago

      it explicitly by-passes those questions, except to say it has a breakdown of the generation mix, some of which has dispatch capability i.e. CST with thermal storage (short term dispatch) and geothermal (very high capacity factor).

      48pp (small pages with pictures) report is here:

  6. wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

    so biomass, geothermal and other are to form more than double the capacity of solar thermal by 2030? and zero PHES as hydro doesn’t seem to grow at all. they’re the only aspects that seem a little off target in an otherwise excellent initiative from Australian Greens.

    biomass has many takers for specialty needs replacing uses fossil fuels are used in, city of Sydney wanted all the biomass from a 250km radius just to power its I’ll conceived precinct power plan to pipe hot water around the CBD. including but no limited to transport. in a drying continent that kind of reliance on biomass for electrical energy generation seems wrong. BZE transport plan was having trouble just finding enough for to model a zero emissions transport sector even with EVs for all road light and personal transport geothermal has not proved it’s value in this country. it’s move unproven on cost benefit that wave even.

  7. JohnRD 5 years ago

    The use of renewable auction systems and direct investment in stead of putting a price on carbon and punishing polluters suggests that the Greens are becoming a lot more practical and miles ahead of major parties stuck in the past.

    • Jens Stubbe 5 years ago

      True I have not seen their elegant suggestion put to action before. Great idea to let the fossil business eat their own tail without calling for public funding to close down their health, economy and climate damaging operations down.

      • Alastair Leith 5 years ago

        UK government uses reverse actions with strike prices for energy as does South Africa and closer to home, the ACT. I’ve put it to Greens MPs that this is the way to go but not sure why they suddenly moved in this direction. I expect it’s the success of ACT Government in getting 90% RE targets underway.

  8. Jens Stubbe 5 years ago

    Interesting that the Greens believe wind will have such small traction in Australia. Wind is cheaper than solar and the capacity factor is much higher. Cost is dropping and the capacity factor is increasing. Also why are the greens only considering 90% renewables? Australia has abundant renewable resources and could easily power the entire globe many times over, which is not the case for many smaller and more heavily populated countries with large energy consumption. It is only a matter of cost before renewables will end the fossil age. Wind power electricity cost (average USA 20 year wind PPA 2014 was at $0.035/kWh) has to decrease 85% before electricity and abundant CO2 becomes the cheapest source for the petrochemical industry and even the oil wells i Saudi Arabia will shut down operation. 85% seems like a lot but wind industry leaders such as Siemens are commercially successful and fully expect to lower cost 40% every decade going forward. This may seem bold but in the five year from 2008 to 2013 they achieved 58% cost reduction, which is 15% price drop year to year on average and from 2013 to 2014 they achieved 6%. Provided the industry perform to their own more modest expectations the year to year price drop will be 4,6%, which is less than the historic trend. Even with this modest price decrease year to year wind power will end the market viability of even the cheapest fossils around by 2054 provided the Saudis then still can produce oil at $10/barrel and the rest of the fossil value chain can remain at the same cost levels, which is unlikely because the cost of oil production has gone up steadily and the rest of the fossil value chain has also been increasing relentlessly. Wind power is up against at least one other beast with a strong bite because solar also decrease cost more rapidly than wind. I think the wind industry can lower cost faster than they mean to and also that they need to do so to stay competitive.

    Bottom line sometime before 2054 and probably in about twenty years or less fossils will no longer be commercially viable. Wise nations should respond to the situation by imposing extra taxation upon fossil infrastructure and research. Pension funds should not be allowed to own stocks in the fossil value chain at all because it is a financial risk and stupid considering that they aim to secure pensioners old age.

    • JeffJL 5 years ago

      Why only 90%. Err. Because it is a 14/15 year time frame.

      • Jens Stubbe 5 years ago

        I do not see your point. Building wind power to power all of Australia combined with the remaining hydro power, gas powered peak power, biofuels plus continued expansion of solar and home storage could be done significantly faster than 15 years but also at an elevated price point relative to a slower buildout but more importantly still cheaper than continuing with the current fossil based energy supply and fast build out would poise Australia to assume a position equal to the leading OPEC countries.

        Historically wind power jobs has always followed the market, so the scheme would also significantly improve the job market right through academia to blue collar and the service sector.

        It is not a huge challenge to leave fossils behind in Australia except for the ones with vested interests in soon to be stranded fossil fuel value chain assets.

        I would not preoccupy myself with storage and energy savings if I were planning the future energy strategies for Australia. Storage will happen anyway and so will energy efficiency. Everybody who can afford modern top performance vehicles will buy them and within the 15 year timeframe top performance vehicles will be hybrids or pure EV’s. Everybody will buy quality aircon and this will be energy efficient and the same goes for virtually every household appliance and lighting system that is bound to be more energy efficient than todays state of the art offerings.

        • JeffJL 5 years ago

          I congratulate you on your optimism. The Greens though are more pessimistic than you which is why they have gone for 90% by 2030. If it is not fast enough for you you are welcome to vote for a party which does believe it could be done.

          As a favor to all on this site please let us know what that party is.

          • Jens Stubbe 5 years ago

            The entire parliament in Denmark say for an ultra liberal party did vote in favor of a plan to stop the use of fossils all together by 2050 but now the opposition to this plan is gathering and the ruling party (the same party that actively supported Bjørn Lomborg and gave him a “research” institute) has made an effort to stop progress as much as possible, which is stupid from any perspective. The new energy minister came from a position as managing director for a fossil interest group so he is busy handing goodies to his pals.

            As an example large coastal sea areas had been approved for wind farms with a FIT 60Øre/kWh (AUD0.196781/kWh) for the first 6 years and thereafter spot market price. As soon as the new government came they abandoned the projects and they also cancelled taxation on NOx emissions and several other efforts to curb pollution.

            The energy research programs in Denmark has been cut by 80% except for the energy research into fusion and fossils.

            The national engineering association (IDA) has just published a second report on a fully decarbonized Denmark and the two leading Danish industry association supports the plan to wean the country of fossils but despite traditional strong ties to the governing Liberal party they have had no say in the matter.

        • Alastair Leith 5 years ago

          Energy Efficiency does not “just happen”. That’s why the Japanese legislated for the “Top Runner” scheme for energy efficacy in products like RCACs and fridges. It sets the current product class efficiency leader as the efficiency cut-off benchmark for all manufacturers in n years time.

          Australia should be doing the same for all our imports and locally manufactured white goods and vehicles etc.

          • Jens Stubbe 5 years ago

            Sure it does. LED’s will use 50% less energy, displays will use 90% less energy in just ten years from now and lots of other major power guzzling technologies will decrease power consumption at similar or even greater rates just because the energy efficiency is a key competitive quality. Less impressive but still meaningful improvements will be achieved for hybrid cars, home appliances etc.

            Much rather than combating energy consumption the governments should combat planned obsolescence and non recyclable products plus keep focus on selectively support renewables by taxing non renewables including their external costs.

          • Alastair Leith 5 years ago

            LEDs didn’t “just happen”.

          • Jens Stubbe 5 years ago

            You are definitively right about LED’s but it did happen (mostly industry driven) and will steam roll across all incumbent technologies, which will disrupt the entire lighting industry. Within this decade LED’s will save considerably more energy than nuclear power plants and hydro power plants combined produces. If the coal industry had been interested in preserving their business model they could have introduced quality power plants with a conversion efficiency of 47% and could probably also have improved on that but they did not so now they are heading straight for their own burial. Legislation that force industries to comply with specific emission standards and brute punishment of the likes of VW is much more efficient from a societal perspective.

            Enlightened companies such as the largest industrial corporation on earth, Samsung are doing everything they can to wean them selves of fossils. Samsung claim 55% CO2 EMISSION reduction since 2008 and any other company could do the same with the right mindset. I was involved with the first environmental report from a corporation when Novo launched that in 1996 and since Novo has reduced its carbon footprint dramatically. The industry is driving this change so no need for anything else than still tougher legislation and more punitive actions – so do not waste public money on energy efficiency research.

          • Alastair Leith 5 years ago

            i wasn’t advocating more public money on EE R&D, I think implementation and behavioural change is where to spend the public money, let industry take the gambles. The Libs when in power in Victorian torched a perfectly good scheme which facilitated capital expenditure on EE within Utilities and Govt depts and government financed independent bodies. The taxpayer got the savings over time and we all got reduced emissions.

            Some industries need kick-starting, LEDs were deployment driven once some countries started rewarding EE. I’d like to see double/triple glazing rewarded so it isn’t three times the cost it is in European countries.

            Not so sure I’d go so far to describe Samsung as *enlightened* 🙂 I’m sure Apple doesn’t think that Samsung’s super-liberal product design IP circumventing is ‘enlightened’, even if Apple do ship Samsung chips in a good portion of their mobile product range.

          • Jens Stubbe 5 years ago

            Some friends of mine run a company that is backed by Chinese capital because they want to explore ESKO model thinking about EE. The plan is to finance these projects in Denmark, gather experience and analyze the potential in Chinese context and then launch big time in China. Modus operandi has changed for good and will start impact real mass markets. I am not skeptical about EE but I see demising returns because energy savings also reduce the fiscal income and I see better opportunity for simply transitioning all energy to RE whereafter there is no real climate risk pressure on limiting energy usage.

          • Alastair Leith 5 years ago

            i’m amongst other things a graphic designer for my sins, Jens and ESKO means prepress software to me, not sure the model you’re referring to.

            it is an interesting question about EE vs RE cost of producing energy. i designed the ZCA Buildings Plan and have a various times asked about the benefits of say double-glasing vs super-sizing of a rooftop PV array, especially at a point in the future when the cost of PV becomes trivial (long term trend that PV capacity deployed double every two years and modules fall in cost 20% each doubling leads to more than global present day energy demand at almost free prices by 2036).

            I guess one point is that no electrical energy production, even PV and Wind are entirely carbon-free and free of environmental harms. That aside, perhaps at some point all EE technologies reach their inflection point on ROI but we are very much not anywhere near there yet. Building insulation doesn’t just reduce energy demand but maximum peak demand which has enormous network cost implications. Like you said if LEDs (and OLED) continue on current learnings curve then they will sweep across all lighting and imaging fields but I recall industry estimates that they don’t expect huge growth over next decade because where some markets are expanding others are contracting, and life-cycle period comes into play too.

            Someone on the Conversation today mischievously quoted Kevin Anderson’s point when asked if corporations are not doing more to halt CC. His response is no, corporations deploying EE doesn’t halt CC at all. That’s because until global emissions become less than zero, CC continues, and even when they do there is lag. However as we approach 100% RE anything we do or have historically done to reduce demand does halt CC, as it means we’re retiring FF sooner than otherwise. Until that point, not so. He also raised the so-called rebound effect, BZE Buildings Plan refuted rebound effect in building energy consumption citing several sources.

    • Alastair Leith 5 years ago

      it’s AT LEAST 90%.

      it’s a caveat to those engineers in energy markets who will wet themselves about 100%, I’m guessing. sort of a critique minimisation ploy, and there’s nothing to stop it being made 100% at the 2020 election. I expect significant overshoot of capacity once something like 90% is reached, the momentum will be too strong at the distributed energy (behind the meter) part of the market.

      if PV deployment were to double at some rate approaching the global PV deployment rate of 2 years per doubling then stopping at 90% would require all kinds of government intervention, by the time nations are approaching 90% RE, PV will probably be applied to external cladding materials at a trivial cost and be considered a point of sale desirable.

      and as RE penetration into national grids grows beyond 70% there will be a premium on energy storage and frequency control or reliance on fossil fuel backup. to get the fossils out that will mean some kind of mechanism, the Greens propose ramping emissions caps so the dirtiest coal plants close first. as storage is deployed world-wide it will follow the PV learning curve. i expect it to be steeper because there are so many chemical battery and other storage technologies being researched. We already have PHES, gravity rails and thermal storage is on a good learning curve south.

      we’ve only scratched the surface on chemical storage. where as PV research was mostly variants on silicon wafers and some thin film alternatives, the number of chemical storage mediums being examined is extensive, i wonder if there’s any one person who knows just how many. graphene could be a major game changer on energy density and material costs for example and is already used in PV cells as terminals.

  9. Alastair Leith 5 years ago

    Watch launch video (59 min) and download the 48pp report at

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