The conclusion is contained in a comprehensive research project and blueprint developed by Siemens, entitled Picture the Future: Australia - Energy & Water.
It is the first research in Australia to focus on technology as the enabler for a sustainable future, and is the result of work done in Australia and Germany involving Siemens researchers and a validation process with 22 of Australia’s industry bodies including the CSIRO, ABARE, the Bureau of Meteorology, The Clean Energy Council, University Technology Sydney, The University of Newcastle, Monash University, Parsons Brinckerhoff, South East Water, and The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering.
The key issue for Australia in coming decades is the achievement of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, it concludes. The 2020 target of a reduction of 5% below the 2000 emissions actually equates to a 47% reduction below the level that will occur by 2020 if no action is taken to mitigate emissions.
GHG targets require renewable energy investment
In order to achieve the 2020 target of 5% below 2000 GHG emissions, Siemens recommends that Australia needs to invest A$60 billion over the next 10 years in renewable and low-CO2 generation technologies while simultaneously undertaking aggressive energy efficiency measures,” the report notes.
The technology blueprint includes solar, wind and geothermal from renewable energy sources, efficient and low-emission power generation, advanced transmission and distribution including smart grid technologies, electrified transportation and efficient energy use.
According to Siemens, many of the technologies required are already available. “For example, a solar power station sized at 30 x 30 km in central Australia would meet the national electricity demand during daylight hours,” it states. “Use of such technology would allow Australia to become an exporter of clean electricity.”
By 2030, 20% of vehicles will be electric or hydrogen-based, fueled by electricity generated from renewable sources, it adds. Carbon capture technology will be proven by 2020 and the construction of new high-efficiency coal- and gas-fired power plants (combined with CCS technologies) will provide a strong future for fossil power generation.
“Even the possibility of being a net exporter of clean electricity is realistic for Australia,” says Albert Goller of Siemens Australia. “Implementing technologies will not only help create a sustainable future, but also new skills and job opportunities in remote regions, whilst providing economic growth.”
Report examines water issues
The report gives equal assessment of the potential for water in Australia, noting that it has been 15 years since the demand for water outstripped natural supply. Despite current water management strategies, there is still an urgent need to find technical solutions to meet the increasing demand for water.
Australia has the highest CO2 emissions per capita in OECD, and coal and natural gas will provide the majority of the country’s energy until 2030. It has extensive solar, wind and geothermal potential, and renewables will generate 40% of electricity by 2030, it predicts.