National polling commissioned by The Australia Institute showed that a staggering 71% of voters say would consider voting for a party that supported distributed small-scale solar and storage.
Recent polling in the seat of Bass by Solar Citizens and other groups has raised concerns that the local member, Andrew Nikolic, is not doing enough to help Tasmania harvest its diverse renewable energy resources.
Bass ranks 114 out of 150 electorates on the policy scorecard published by Solar Citizens.
More than 1.5 million Australian households have rooftop solar.
These households are part of a transition which saw global investment in renewables (excluding large-scale hydro) overtake fossil fuels last year.
New renewables accounted for over half (53.6%) of new generation capacity and more than a quarter of a trillion dollars (US$286 billion) of global investment. This is a significant achievement when you consider that most new renewable energy is relatively small-scale.
It is in fact the small scale of renewable energy technology that makes it so powerful. Renewable energy can be distributed widely and evenly, where it is needed, right down to the individual household.
This ‘distributed’ energy paradigm can actually provide more reliability than the old, centralised model that relied on a few major assets, such as coal fired power plants, big hydro dams or grid interconnectors such as Basslink.
Renewable energy also means jobs, and for regional areas particularly. The Australia Institute’s research shows that if the Renewable Energy Target was protected out to 2030 and increased to 90% (up from 23%), that would provide over 35,000 jobs.
Internationally there are over 8 million people employed in renewables. Unfortunately, under the policies of the Coalition government, while international investment and jobs in renewables grew, Australia’s renewable sector stagnated.
Unlike some environmental battles which can be controversial, renewable energy is universally popular across electorates across Australia. This means that any candidate can take the lead, and use diverse and distributed renewable energy to provide reliable energy and create jobs.
*Dan Cass is strategist at the Australia Institute and an honorary associate at Sydney Business School.