Australia not only is one of the largest producers of coal with significant export mainly to China, but is also a big user of fossil fuels, with more than 75% of its 2008/2009 electricity derived from it.
However, researchers from the University of New South Wales have conducted a study showing that Australia can rely solely on renewable energy by 2030, providing the price of carbon is increased by about $50 to $100 per tonne so as to make prices of renewable sources more competitive.
The study projected that if Australia did go 100% renewable, wind energy would contribute the most with nearly 60% share in power generation while solar would contribute about 20% and biofuel-based generators and hydro would make up the rest.
It would appear that increasing the price of carbon would be a good move in the fight against climate change but it would also be a reasonable one, considering that the carbon fuel industry has been on the receiving end of subsidies for many years and has also caused a lot of damage to the environment.
An even more likely result, according to the researchers, would be a faster decrease in the cost of renewables. The figures used by the researchers were somewhat conservative, meaning that eventually, renewables may be less expensive compared to fossil fuels.
The key to such a future for Australia would be to get the powers that be to increase carbon prices by an appropriate amount, otherwise such a future would indeed by slow in coming. Another way to do this is perhaps to increase taxes and thus raise revenue on carbon, while also cutting revenue on renewables to shift demand towards renewables. However, this move should not be too expensive for consumers, only that it should make the fossil fuel industry more accountable for the damage it has already done.