Renewable Energy and Climate Change

 

We are in a global race against time on climate change. We see its effects all around us: severe drought, more bushfires and rising sea levels. We know that pollution caused by burning coal is the single most significant contributor to dangerous global warming.

As one of the sunniest states in one of the sunniest countries in the world, New South Wales is in a unique position to be a world leader in renewable energy technology. A rapid transition to renewables will minimise the destruction of our way of life through climate change and will create new, future-oriented jobs.

Instead of embracing renewable energy and solving climate change, both Labor and the Liberal / National coalition have propped up the coal, fracking and oil industries, selling the rest of us out in return for political donations from resource corporations. Decades of poor climate leadership from past governments have left New South Wales receiving a "C" grade from the Climate Council. The fossil fuel lobby continues to do everything it can to undermine action on climate change and to block the transition to renewable energy.

Our future is too important to leave up to corporate greed and the major party politicians they’ve bought. The Greens have a plan, based on the science, to rapidly transition to renewable energy and to end political donations from the big companies. Without the big polluters holding us back, we can create the infrastructure and jobs needed to drive a cleaner, more modern economy.

Labor and the Liberal Nationals will try to convince us that we have to choose between cheaper energy bills or renewable power. Don’t believe them! We can have both. Renewable energy sources have meagre on-going costs compared to the mining, processing and burning of coal. Right now, the future is in our hands. We can stop the damage to our climate, and we can hand over a better, safer future for generations to come. The Greens are committed to 100% renewable electricity generation across our state and the country by 2030.

And the Greens refuse donations from mining (and other) companies. Our plan will tackle climate change, make bills cheaper, make energy more reliable and create thousands of jobs in industries that will last long into the future.

To see our detailed blueprint on Renewables for Northern rivers, click here. 

Our plan for a renewable economy that tackles climate change:

  • Promoting household solar
  • Ban new coal and CSG
  • A Just Transition away from fossil fuels
  • 100% renewable by 2030

 

Promote Household Solar

As one of the world’s sunniest regions, New South Wales (NSW) is ideally placed to harness solar energy. Although dedicated solar energy farms are an option, we want to make sure every resident has the opportunity to make the most of this renewable resource on site. Our plan will ensure the 350,000 projected new builds in NSW over the next four years will be designed to capture and use solar energy.

Our vision is for those houses to have solar panels and batteries installed, or will contribute to a registered community renewable energy provider. A new policy will ensure:

  • New detached dwellings must install at least a 5kW solar system and 4.5kW battery - this will cost approximately $3,800 per new house.
  • New apartments and other attached dwellings must install at least a 3kW solar system per household or pay $2000 to a registered community renewable energy provider.
  • Rebates of $2,000 for rooftop solar and batteries.

This will cost $1 billion over four years, and be available to households with a weekly income of up to $3,000. Up to two million households in NSW will be eligible for the rebate.

We want to make the most of our current infrastructure as well as facilitating new technology, so we will make $250 million available to ensure solar panels and batteries are installed on all public housing. The electricity produced will then be deducted from the electricity bills of 110,000 public housing tenants, saving each of them about $500 every year.

Apartment owners and renters are currently locked out of the benefits of rooftop solar; this is something we’d like to change. The Greens will establish a community solar offset scheme, allowing apartment owners or renters to purchase credits in registered community renewable energy providers. Advances in smart metering mean that the energy generated can directly offset electricity bills of households who have credits in the scheme. We will assist community providers in building solar arrays either on apartment buildings or off-site, which can be eligible for the scheme.

We estimate that such a scheme could allow 200,000 further households to access solar over the next four years, along with associated reductions in their energy bills.

Households - whether apartments or stand-alone housing - will have the opportunity to make a little extra money from their solar energy systems. We have already drafted legislation to ensure a fair minimum price for households who can feed excess solar electricity into the grid.

The Electricity Supply Amendment Bill mandates that IPART will set the minimum rate an electricity retailer pays for household-generated solar energy. The Bill also mandates solar households will receive a payment for health and environmental costs avoided by the household’s use of solar energy instead of coal-fired power.  As an example, a home with a 3kW solar energy system feeding an average of 6kW per hour of energy into the grid will earn an extra $96.35 per year.

 

Our plan will:

  • Give households a $2000 rebate for solar systems
  • Create a community solar offset scheme for low-income renters
  • Allow households to save up to $500 on energy bills.

A ban on New Coal and Coal-Seam Gas Mining in New South Wales

The science is clear if we want to avert catastrophic climate change, we need to leave what remains of our coal and gas reserves in the ground; this requires an immediate halt to coal and gas exploration. We also need to stop the expansion of existing coal mines and gas fields or any new developments.  

Coal mining and gas extraction pose risks not only to our future through climate change but also to our present through the environmental pollution of coal are well documented, and threats to our water supply from fracking are clear. We have listened to communities and are demanding the end of coal or gas reserves within the state, without exception. Whether in gas exploration off-shore or fracking seams onshore, even looking for gas poses risks of degrading our water bodies. Water is a resource crucial to our continued survival, and the critical risks for water supplies in on-shore exploration cannot be justified.

We will ban any further extraction, prohibiting additional expansions in production for existing gas or coal operations - whether in mines or power plants. As part of our commitment to phase-out oil and gas, we will not issue consents to any new coal mines or gas fields - whether onshore or offshore.

 

Our plan will:

  • Ban dangerous and disruptive gas and coal exploration
  • Begin the transition away from fossil fuels by preventing new coal mines or gas fields
  • Kickstart the renewable energy revolution by banning new coal and gas exploration

 

A Just Transition Away from Coal and Gas

While banning the planning or construction of new dirty energy plants is a great start, we will go further. We will phase out coal or gas operations across the state by 2030. We recognise that transition will be tough for many workers across the state who are dependent on these industries. We are committed to a collaborative, just transition to other trades, in partnership with local communities and unions.

To this end, we’ll set up a Coal Community and Environment Trust to ensure that adequate strategies are being devised, developed and implemented in partnership with local communities and unions. The Unit will ensure that workers in these industries are getting support through retraining and that they are receiving opportunities in the growing clean energy sector.

We will begin a gradual phase-out of fossil fuel power across the state, releasing our strategy and timeline after community consultation. Our 10-year phase-out plan, funded by royalties from the coal sector will be complemented by our renewable energy package and our regional development plan, to ensure the state’s energy security and to provide opportunities for workers, businesses and communities affected by the transition.  

 

Our plan will:

  • Create a jobs guarantee for workers leaving fossil fuel industries
  • Fund a Coal Community and Environment Trust to prepare and implement strategies for affected communities
  • Gradual phase-out of fossil fuel power across the state as we transition to 100% renewables.

 

100% Renewables

At the same time as phasing out fossil fuels, we will invest in clean, renewable energy to facilitate the decarbonisation of our state and create new opportunities for industries and individuals alike.

We will develop a roadmap for 100% renewables by 2030 - using a mix of technologies including wind, solar, biofuels, tidal, hydro, geothermal and many others to ensure a 100% renewable energy mix.

This will create opportunities for Ballina (and Lismore) with potential apprenticeships and careers for people making components for solar and wind power plants. We also expect a boon for the Southern Cross University in Lismore with University/community partnerships to develop new technologies.

 

Our plan will:

  • Create a roadmap for 100% renewable by 2030
  • Bring opportunities in the clean energy sector through renewable power
  • Research and development of new technologies combined with investment in renewable energy to scale up production