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Renewable Energy Myths

5 myths busted that Australian energy companies don’t want you to see!

The evidence is in: renewable energy is viable, reliable, cheap, and ready to go. But Australian energy companies don’t want you to believe it.

Covering 77% of all small electricity customers, Origin, Energy Australia and AGL are Australia’s energy giants. Their business models rely heavily on coal and gas and together they are attempting to crush Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. The target would see at least 20% of Australia’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020.

Don’t let ‘The Dirty Three’ fool you. Please share the busted myths far and wide on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 
Myth 1

Renewable energy is too expensive

Renewable energy is becoming cheaper than coal and gas power. Right now, the fossil fuel industry is heavily subsidised and if its subsidies were stripped away then renewable energy would be cheaper than coal and gas power.

Under the Renewable Energy Target, household electricity bills will decrease by $50 a year by 2020. If the target is kept in place, Australians will see savings of up to $140 each year after 2020.

In addition, there are no input costs for wind and solar energy. So for example, while one needs to buy coal for a coal-fired power plant to generate electricity (and coal mining itself has massive environmental costs), solar and wind energy don’t have input costs like that – sunlight and wind are free.

Did you know that the rising cost of Australian energy bills are mainly due to network costs and soaring rising gas prices? So don’t let your energy company blame it on renewables!

 

 
Myth 2

RENEWABLE ENERGY CAN’T SUPPLY ELECTRICITY 24/7

       

The latest scientific research has shown that even if 100% of our electricity came from renewables, it could still be as reliable as our power supply is today. Source

The key to getting a constant supply of electricity from renewable energy is to have a mix of sources including solar and wind power. As the sun goes down, so wind production generally increases, and as the winds drop in one region they pick up in another.

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Myth 3

RENEWABLE ENERGY ONLY BENEFITS THE WEALTHY

Support for solar cuts across all demographics and political affiliations. In fact, most Australians who have solar live in rural regional areas, or postcodes where median incomes are low.

So not only does solar benefit lower income homeowners as well as the wealthy, it also drives down the costs of electricity for everyone and has huge benefits for the economy. Since 2001, the Renewable Energy Target has created over 24,000 new jobs. Over the next six years it’s forecast to create a further 18,400 jobs. The target has already generated $20 billion of investment, and if left alone, is projected to generate a further $15 billion to 2020. So it’s good news all round.

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Myth 4

RENEWABLES ARE UNRELIABLE

Did you know Australia already generates enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of almost 4 million homes? That’s around half of all Australian households! While this is great news, it is apparent that Australia is getting left behind. Japan and China are the biggest investors in renewables and Europe is also achieving some impressive results in the sector.

In 2013, Austria generated 68% of its total electricity from renewable sources, closely followed by Sweden, which achieved 67%.

Germany is also excelling in the renewable energy sector and has a target to produce 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

It’s not just developed countries who are aiming high. Mexico recently released an ambitious target to increase its share of electricity from renewable sources to 33% by 2018.

As proven by other countries around the world, renewable energy is not only achievable but also doable! In fact, Australia is the sunniest country in the world, and one of the windiest, so we really should have no excuse but to lead the way in renewables by tapping into the sun more. Australia, we can do better.

 

 
Myth 5

Renewable Energy is bad for the environment

There are so many reasons why renewables are better for the planet than dirty fossil fuels.

Birds and bats: A common argument against wind farms is that they kill birds and bats. However, if environmental impact assessments are conducted and migratory patterns are assessed before construction, this impact is greatly reduced.

Of course every effort should be made to minimise this impact, but it should also be looked at in the context of other projects and their effect on birds. Coal power plants have a far greater effect on birds, with coal mining, onsite collision and electrocution, downstream poisoning, acid rain, mercury pollution and climate change all causing significant bird deaths. In fact, if we replaced all fossil fuel generation with wind turbines worldwide we would save roughly 70 million birds' lives every year.

Noise: Studies have shown that noise complaints, especially those related to wind farms, are often unrelated to actual noise. In most cases it was found that people were actually opposed to the farms on aesthetic grounds – which would be the same with coal or nuclear plants. It was also found that ‘noise’ complaints dropped off rapidly when local communities derived income from the renewable energy projects in question.

Land use: The land used for renewable energy projects, like solar and wind farms, can still be used for farming and cattle grazing. International experience has shown that livestock are completely unaffected by the presence of wind farms and will often graze right up to the base of wind turbines.

Carbon Footprint: Renewable energy doesn’t emit carbon like coal and gas does and therefore has no negative effect on the climate. Unlike coal, renewable energy pays off its carbon footprint and does so relatively quickly. Depending on where they are made, solar panels offset their carbon footprint in about four years.

 

Where to from here?

The good news is that Australia is investing in renewable energy. Australia has incredible renewable energy potential and the target has created thousands of new jobs and savings in electricity bills. But it has recently come under attack from corporate interests, which puts all of this progress we’ve made in jeopardy.

You can play a role to protect renewable energy. Say yes to clean, cheap, viable and reliable energy – help us save the Renewable Energy Target!