Household electricity bills would rise by just $1.23 a week if a quarter of Australia’s energy came from renewable sources, a report has found.
The report by three green groups says setting a renewable energy target of 25 per cent by the year 2020 would deliver more than 16,000 new jobs, slash greenhouse gas emissions by 69 million tonnes and generate $33 billion in investment.
Although the average power bill would rise by $64 a year, continuing to rely on current power sources would cause prices to jump by $234 a year.
The study, A Bright Future, was released Monday by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace and the Climate Change Action Network.
It warns Australia is missing out on the economic benefits of renewable energy that are flowing to California and European nations which have boosted their renewable energy targets.
In 1997, the federal government set a mandatory renewable energy target of two per cent, on top of existing supply.
At present, about 10 per cent of Australia’s energy comes from renewables like wind, solar and hydro.
"With current policies, (Australia’s) electricity emissions will reach 260 million tonnes by 2020, more than double 1990 levels," the report said.
"Generating a quarter of our electricity from renewable energy and reversing electricity growth from 2010 onwards by ambitious energy efficiency measures would reduce overall electricity emissions to 160 million tonnes.
"The reduction of about 100 million tonnes, compared to business as usual, would be equivalent to removing all the road transport in Australia.
"Provided we put Australia on track for sustained renewable energy development, costs should fall to below the cost of fossil fuels over the next 15 years."
Under the plan, coal’s share of power generation would fall from three-quarters to 59 per cent, drastically reducing greenhouse emissions.
The study said allowing Australia’s energy use to continue rising would ultimately cost the country far more than switching to renewable sources now and becoming more energy-efficient.
Australia was blessed with abundant renewable energy resources yet was lagging behind countries like Germany, which was less windy and received less sunlight.
Greenpeace campaigner Mark Wakeham said Australia should be a world leader in renewable energy.
"Yet due to current government policies, we’re throwing away our competitive advantage and renewable companies are moving offshore," he said.
The European Union has set a renewable energy target of 21 per cent by 2010 and California is aiming for 33 per cent by 2020.