We must act now!
By Paul O'Reilly
At last week's student strike I was asked to speak about how renewable energy and RPC can help people take action to solve the climate crisis.
In Australia the current government has not been supportive of change. The good news is change is going to happen not 'because' of our government but 'despite' our government.
Scientists tell us we have less than 8 years to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions to limiting temperature rise to <2°C. We cannot afford to wait for our next green government, we must take action ourselves now.
For many years climate change deniers have argued that we cannot address emissions without risk of economic and social collapse. The challenge of decarbonising our economies is large but don't let anyone say it can't be done.
Since the invention of electricity we have had the technology to solve climate change. The question has been the cost.
Thomas Edison 100 years ago said 'I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle it'.
In Australia the majority of our CO2 emissions come from 2 sectors of the economy:
- 53% emissions comes from stationary sector. This is from burning coal and gas for electricity generation.
- 15 % comes from transport sector. This is our use of petrol and diesel.
The good news is we have a technical solution to 70% of our emissions dilemma. This can be solved through transitioning electricity generation to 100% renewables and our transport fleet to electric vehicles.
The challenge is that replacing infrastructure takes time. Once an asset is purchased it remains in the fleet for many years:
- Cars/Trucks 20 years
- Buildings 50-100 years
- Coal/Gas generators 50 years
This means we must act now. All new infrastructure needs to be zero emissions.
The cost of renewables is one of the good news stories of climate change. Up until now, fossil fuels have been the cheaper option. The tide has now turned. Economies of scale have seen a dramatic reduction in the cost of solar and batteries.
In 2008 I purchase my first 135w solar panel for $1500. In 2019 a new 310W solar panel is only $230. This represents a 95% cost reduction in 10 years.
We now see wholesale pricing of electricity generated on the Australian grid as follows:
- 3¢ per kWh new solar.
- 4-6¢ for existing coal fired plants.
- >10¢ for new build coal.
Don't trust anyone who says renewables costs too much. People are not up to date with their figures. We don't need new subsidies for solar. We need to stop government propping up fossil fuels. We must stop government building new coal fired power stations and subsidising mines such as Adani.
At a local level
We all use electricity. In our homes, at our schools in our workplaces. What if I said not only could you reduce you emissions but you could also save money?
At RPC, we currently see solar payback time frames as low as 3 years for residential/small commercial customers.
You are currently faced with a choice. Buy coal and gas power for 25-30¢ per kWh or install solar at 10¢ per kWh.
If you don't believe me, 'follow the money'.
Companies such as Facebook, Google and Ikea are all going 100% renewable. In Australia, UNSW, Carlton & United Breweries, Mars chocolates, Whyalla steel works, Sun Metals and Telstra are all going 100% renewables. Yes there is an element of good corporate governance but also these companies are watching their bottom line.
100% of new generation built on the Australian grid is now renewable. Banks won't touch fossil fuel generators. Solar is now the cheapest form of electricity.
So what can you do to help the transition to 100% renewables?
Ask your parents, principal, boss why they are paying twice the price for the privilege to ruin the environment? This is nuts! Appeal to their hip pocket.
Get three quotes for solar. These quotes should outline the cost savings of different system choices. A well designed solar system pays for itself in under 5 years.
Have a plan to reinvest the savings in upgrading the system in the near future.
In 8 years you should be able to produce enough power to cover not only your houses consumption but generate enough to support your transport needs as well.
Look seriously at purchasing an electric vehicle as your next car. At the moment choice is limited but this will soon change. In 2019 we are finally seeing the availability of practical electric vehicles on our shores. Tesla model 3 have started delivery. The second generation Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona are all great looking vehicles with ranges to suit the Australian Market. All car manufacturers have aggressive EV plans so the choice will only get better. This is critical for all new car purchases.
Give RPC a call. Our job is finding cost effective ways to reduce your emissions.
By going 100% solar and electric we can make large inroads into your emissions.
A short note on Kids and politics.
Some people feel uncomfortable with kids being involved in politics. In regard to climate change I say stuff that. Decisions are being made by others that are effecting your future. You deserve a seat at the table.
There was a cool decision recently by the NSW Independent Planning Commission. They rejected the proposed Bylong mine based on environmental reasons. They used the term 'Inter-generational inequity'; I would go as far as to say 'inter generation theft'.
I'll finish with a quote from Bernard Shaw:
'Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.'
Democracy is not a spectator sport. Get involved, Fight on.