Energy [R]evolution

Standard Page - 5 October, 2011
Greenpeace has a vision of a world where everyone can use clean, safe, affordable, pollution-free energy. The Energy [R]evolution is a blueprint your bank could invest in to make this vision a reality in Australia.

Report 2010

Burning coal for electricity is the largest cause of greenhouse gas pollution in Australia and the world. Our heavy use of coal makes Australia the world's highest per capita polluter.

Today, a range of proven and commercial technologies offer solutions to coal. Renewable energy is a global industry-in-waiting, ready to stimulate new investment and create millions more jobs than fossil fuels ever could.

Thousands of Australians are working to make the renewable energy revolution a reality, educating people about the benefits of zero-carbon technology and campaigning to bring renewables to their area. Beyond Zero Emissions and the 100% Renewable campaign are two great examples of nationwide efforts to promote renewable energy in Australia. You can also become part of Greenpeace's campaign to replace polluting power with renewable energy.

Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution scenario

 The Energy [R]evoluition is a blueprint for how we turn this vision into a reality in Australia.

Steps towards an Energy [R]evolution

This section describes the changes that would take place under our blueprint for expanding renewable energy across Australia and phasing out coal-fired electricity.

Click on the tabs above to watch videos on renewable technology in action, or check out our timeline below for switching off coal and switching Australia on to renewables.


The big mover in the first two years is wind. Small amounts of photovoltaic solar, geothermal and biomass are also added, helping to back-up the new wind power.

The combination of wind's massive growth, assisted by other technologies and immediate efficiency gains allows the first polluting coal plants to be retired. The capacity of other coal plants, including Hazelwood and Munmorah, is halved.


Several new technologies pick up pace, including concentrating solar power (CSP).

Australia's dirtiest power station, Hazelwood, closes in early 2013 after 42 years' operation. In NSW, wind and CSP combine to replace coal plants at Liddell and Munmorah. Other plants close down or reduce output in Queensland and WA.


Renewables are now making major headway in Australia's power sector. Ocean energy makes its first appearance supplying electricity to Victoria, while geothermal and solar continue to expand faster.

South Australia becomes the first state to phase out coal-fired electricity, as geothermal and wind power combine to replace Northern power station.


Ocean energy expands in Victoria, and begins supplying significant power needs for Tasmania, WA and SA.

Large-scale solar projects in SA and north-western Victoria help build the region's energy hub that geothermal power initiated.

Continued closures and phase-outs of coal plants, including Eraring in NSW.


The widespread deployment of CSP is the main source of around-the-clock electricity that replaces the remaining 10 coal plants.

By the end of 2020, Australia has replaced all of its coal-fired power stations with renewable energy.


Wind power

By 2020, wind power could provide 21% of Australia's electricity and more than 19,000 Australian clean energy jobs.

How it works

A passive technology that catches the prevailing wind resource and converts it into electrical power.

Instead of driving a turbine using steam from burning fossil fuels, the turbine is spun from the rotation of blades.

Quick facts

  • The most commercially developed and largest provider of renewable, zero-emission energy in the world.
  • China is installing a new wind turbine every half hour.
  • Over 40% of new electricity generation capacity in the USA in 2008 was wind power.

Potential in Australia

Australia has outstanding wind resources, especially in our southern states. A number of major wind projects have already been built, such as at Waubra and Portland in Victoria.

Under Greenpeace's renewable energy blueprint, wind energy would represent the largest amount of any installed renewable energy technology, reaching 21 per cent of Australia's electricity requirements in 2020.

See how it works

Video: See it in action

Concentrating solar power

It could provide 15% of Australia's electricity by 2020, as well as over 12,000 clean energy jobs.

How it works

Large-scale electricity is usually generated by boiling water, which creates steam and spins a turbine. Instead of burning massive amounts of polluting coal, concentrating solar power uses mirrors to focus the sun's rays onto a focal point.

At night, or if the sun is blocked by clouds, heat storage allows the power plant to keep operating.

Quick facts

  • Concentrating solar power is already working on a scale that can replace coal-fired power stations.
  • One of the most advanced CSP stations in Spain can run 24/7, supplying enough electricity to power over 100,000 homes with no drop in output.

Potential in Australia

Australia has some of the best solar resources in the world. For example, a 50km by 50km square in the outback receives enough solar energy to power the country.

Concentrating solar power's role in Australia could be massive, providing 15 per cent of the country's power demand by 2020.

See how it works


Video: See it in action

Geothermal power

Australia's entire electricity needs could be met by harnessing a fraction of 1 per cent of our geothermal resource.

How it works

A geothermal energy rig consists of two to three wells that drill down to the hot rocks, and a turbine on the surface.

Water is pumped down one well and once it reaches the hot rocks, heats up to create pressurised steam. The steam reaches the surface, spins the turbines to generate electricity, before being cooled back to water and recirculating down the well.

Quick facts

  • By 2020, geothermal power could provide 7% of Australia's electricity, providing over 2700 Australian clean energy jobs.
  • Geothermal is an ideal substitute for coal-fired electricity, and uses much of the same technology used to create electricity with a steam turbine.
  • Currently, about 10,000 megawatts of geothermal power is in operation around the world, and 40 countries either have or are building geothermal energy.

Potential in Australia

It's been said that harnessing just 1 per cent of our geothermal resources would be enough to power Australia's electricity needs more than 26,000 times over.

The combined baseload power needs of NSW and Victoria could be met with the geothermal resource that is technically accessible in South Australia's Cooper Basin.


See how it works



Video: see it in action

Cogeneration power

It's ready to roll out on a large scale and is one of the quickest ways we can start substituting for coal-fired electricity.

How it works

Power is generated directly from the unit to supply the building where it is installed. Excess power is fed back into the grid.

Quick facts

  • Could allow us to replace 7000 megawatts of polluting coal-fired electricity – equal to the largest power stations in NSW, Victoria and Queensland combined.
  • Cogeneration avoids the electricity losses that take place in transmission and distribution of power by creating electricity at the point it is consumed.

Potential in Australia

Australia is well placed to use cogeneration. Examples exist of businesses reducing the electricity bills and emissions, as well as actually supplying net energy to the grid.

Coopers Brewery in SA cut its emissions by 50 per cent in eight years, in part due to purchasing a cogeneration plant in 2002.

By 2020, its use could replace 7000 Megawatts of coal-fired power plant, the equivalent of replacing the largest plants in Queensland, NSW and Victoria combined.

See how it works


Video: see it in action