Solar Could Help Australia Phase Out Coal Power by 2040

Solar Could Help Australia Phase Out Coal Power by 2040,” Solar Energy News, July 26 2013

Australia could phase out almost all its fossil-fuel sourced electricity by 2040 if it doubled the current rate of take-up of solar energy and wind energy maintained its current growth pace, said Professor Ken Baldwin, director of ANU’s Energy Change Institute. …

Solar energy, currently dominated by photovoltaic cells, is adding about 1 gigawatt of capacity annually, roughly equivalent to the amount added by wind farms. If the pace of solar energy expansion doubled, starting in 2025, it would overtake fossil-fuel fired power plants by 2030 and leave only a couple of gigawatts of coal or gas power by 2040 – down from almost 40 gigawatts now. …

The solar prediction is based on several key assumptions, such the current decline in energy consumption levels out and stabilises at 2012 levels, said Professor Andrew Blakers, Director of ANU’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems.

Also, the model assumes no new gas or coal-fired power plant being added and that capacity factors of 35 per cent for wind and 20 per cent for solar are achieved.

Professor Blakers noted that some regions are already well down the path of dislodging fossil fuel sources, with SA already generating 29 per cent of its electricity from wind and Tasmania almost all of its power from hydro.

The ACT also plans to get to 90 per cent renewables by 2020, and the national renewable energy target is on course to deliver about 28 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, he said.

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