Renewable energy, facts and information
Imagine a world where you don’t pay any power bills. You head off to work on one of the world’s most innovative electric buses made right here in Australia. As it glides along quietly, the air is clear and the future seems brighter. There are solar panels on every rooftop. And exciting new jobs are opening up every day in the booming renewable energy industry.
This is the picture of the renewable energy revolution. And it’s not just some pie-in-the-sky dream. It could soon be the reality on your doorstep. And some of it’s already here for the taking.
Here are five ways renewable energy could change the game for you.
1. Protect your pocket and be energy independent with rooftop solar
Australia has the best quality sunshine for solar energy in the world. Africa is the only other continent that comes close. Like millions of other Australian households, you could take advantage of our abundant sunshine to generate your own energy to power your home.
“Taking matters into your own hands absolutely makes sense,” says Nicky Ison, Energy Transition Manager for WWF-Australia. “Australia leads the world in rooftop solar, and we are starting to lead the world in terms of home batteries. Depending on where you are and how much energy you use, a solar system typically pays itself back in just a few years, giving you lower power bills from day one,” she says.
Solar panels are being installed across Australia at a rapid pace, with more than 2.5 million rooftop solar installations across the nation to date. Leading the way is Queensland with a total of 717,000 rooftop installs and 3,346 MW of capacity.
And when you combine rooftop solar with an intelligent household battery system, it’s a game-changer. This technology allows you to store the energy that your solar panels generate in your battery, so you can use it anytime. This means that you can be more energy independent and protected from unpredictable energy price hikes.
2. Get a career in the renewable energy economy
You could be one of over 100,000 Australians who could get a job in the renewable energy economy. Right now, WWF-Australia is calling on the Australian Government to support a $2 billion renewable-led COVID-19 stimulus package which would unlock over 100,000 new jobs. Australia currently has 26,850 full-time equivalent workers in the renewable energy industry, but those in the know say it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Every dollar of stimulus spent on clean energy projects generates nearly three times as many jobs per dollar than investment in fossil fuel projects,” says Nicky. “A renewable-led recovery would bring manufacturing back to our shores, grow existing industries, unlock exciting new industries and boost global exports.”
“A clean energy recovery and a clean energy future means jobs in renewable power generation, construction, operations and maintenance. It means jobs in the manufacture of renewable energy components like batteries or wind turbines, and in the transport and heating sectors. And, if you’re good at maths and computers or good at marketing, there are so many jobs available in making our energy systems smarter and more responsive for everyone.”
3. Enjoy the commute on an electric bus
You could soon be stepping onto a clean energy-powered bus to make the daily commute to work. Today, there are around 425,000 electric buses worldwide. And this number is growing rapidly. Twenty-six cities across the world have committed to only buying electric buses by 2025. That’s an additional 80,000 new electric buses in the next five years.
One of these is the NSW Government which has announced that they’ll be replacing their ageing fleet of diesel buses with 8,000 new electric buses. The new Brisbane Metro project will also put 60 new electric buses on the road, each with the capacity to carry 150 passengers.
Electric buses are pleasantly quiet compared to conventional diesel buses, providing a smoother ride for commuters. And, being powered by renewable energy at a charging station when not in use, they’re cheaper to run than diesel buses. Not only that, but these futuristic vehicles will also play a part in reducing air pollution in our cities.
And the beauty of it is, we can make these buses right here in Australia and export them to the world. As part of a renewable-led COVID-19 recovery, WWF-Australia is asking the Australian Government to support a $240 million economic stimulus to fast-track electric bus manufacturing.
“This would build a strong national manufacturing sector and double Australia’s bus manufacturing workforce of 10,000 to 20,000 by 2030,” says Nicky. “We could put 500 new electric buses on the road in Australia’s major cities in just three years.”
4. Improve your health and well-being
A move to renewable energy will also improve physical and mental health, and the associated huge cost burden. This is backed by the Australian Medical Association which has labelled climate change a ‘health emergency’. Representing 27,000 doctors across the nation, this respected body has called on the Australian Government to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as a matter of urgency.
A reduction in greenhouse gases on a global scale will mean less severe events like bushfires, drought, heatwaves and floods which are taking a huge toll, particularly in regional communities. And, according to Doctors for the Environment Australia, a move away from fossil fuels will significantly reduce particulate matter and other pollutants in the air, helping reduce rates of lung cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke. The list of health and well-being benefits is long, including improved mental health, reduction in the transmission of vector-borne diseases and better food security.
5. Benefit from a strong and resilient economy
A renewable-led COVID-19 recovery will accelerate major economic opportunities for Australia. And you could reap the benefits. But to do this, we need strong investment in energy efficiency, electrification and renewable energy such as solar, batteries, wind, renewable hydrogen and fuel cells.
“We are at a watershed moment,” says Nicky Ison from WWF-Australia. “We are at a turning point in the global economy in terms of energy. What we’re seeing at the moment is a massive growth in renewable energy. It’s not just our homes that can be more energy self-sufficient; it’s our country. While we’re a net energy exporter, we do import the majority of our diesel and oil. That makes us incredibly vulnerable.”.
“We have some of the best wind and solar resources in the world. There are other countries that don’t have such great availability, that will need our help. So that presents more energy export opportunities in the renewable space. Clean energy is future-proofed.”
Find out more
WWF-Australia is calling on the Australian Government, and the states to support a $2 billion renewable-led stimulus package. Together with business and industry leaders, we’re asking for five targeted stimulus measures:
Battery nation: Let’s unlock Australia’s potential to become a leader in global battery manufacture.
Local solar: Let’s deliver at least one new solar project in every community across the country.
Electric bus revolution: Let’s convert Australia’s buses to electric; we can make the world’s best buses right here, and sell them across the globe.
Modernising manufacturing: Let’s convert our manufacturing industries to renewable power sources, so they can be resilient and competitive in a global market.
Accelerating renewable hydrogen: Let’s accelerate renewable hydrogen and become a global supplier of the ‘fuel of the future’.
Find out more about WWF-Australia’s proposed #RenewableRecovery at wwf.org.au/renewable-recovery