Why it’s time to ban ‘dirty, expensive’ fossil fuels

4 AUGUST 2023

Why it’s time to ban ‘dirty, expensive’ fossil fuels

The Victorian Government has made the controversial decision to ban all gas connections to new homes and government buildings in 2024.

While some fear a domino effect of rising electricity costs, Senior Research Fellow on Energy and Circularity Dr Simon Wright in the Charles Sturt University Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water and Environment argues Australia’s remaining states and territories must follow in the hope of creating a more environmentally sustainable nation.

Protecting finite resources

Australia, and each state and territory, have clear goals to reach net zero carbon emissions over the next few decades.

This is, in theory, a relatively simple goal and putting a stop to gas consumption is an equally achievable technique to reach said goal.

We can’t have one without the other, and the fact of the matter is, gas is dirty and expensive.

Fossil fuels are very polluting, and finite. This means we will run out eventually and the damage fossil fuels cause is unlikely to be repaired in a timely fashion.

The best part of working to eliminate the use of fossil fuels is that we already have options available that science tells us are effective.

Renewable energy generated from solar, wind and other renewable sources is emission-free even when on.

It can be used to generate electricity, which heats our homes and water, cooks our food and keeps the lights on.

And in doing this, it’s used with a clear conscience.

Save your hip pocket and the environment

Gas has become, and will continue to be, more and more expensive.

Coal-fired power stations are closing primarily because they are reaching their natural end-of-life and renewables are the cheapest replacement, making the switch from gas a smart economic choice for households.

The government has estimated savings of up to $1,000 on an average home’s annual energy, and even more if solar panels are introduced.

Given electricity prices are on the rise, there’s never been a better time to install solar panels.

You can get your money back in savings in as little as two to three years, and the batteries to store power are coming down in price too so the option to store for use at night or during overcast periods is even easier.

Balancing solar energy and agricultural productivity

Solar power comes with its own debate about balancing agricultural productivity and the mass generation of power achieved with solar farms.

We must use farming land for farming, not for residential estates or solar farms. This is non-negotiable; however, there are options for both to occur, simultaneously.

The technology exists to compromise and offer creative solutions, such as sheep grazing beneath solar panels. This offers shade and moisture, with similar options for cattle and indeed, crops.

It’s not about getting rid of our rich food production - we mustn’t risk that. And there are great expanses of other land not fit for farming which can be used too.

We have a need for both food and power, and there is a happy medium to achieve this.

Looking to the future

The discourse has changed from fossil fuels to a future of renewables, and we must keep on this trajectory.

We can do the things we love without the guilt of harming the environment. But to do this, it’s a matter of urgency that gas must be banned.

Regional towns and cities are at the centre of this movement now.  This is where the action and investment is on solar farms, massive renewable energy zones, and the emergence of battery technology like community batteries which have the power to service 30, 40, even 50 homes at a time.

The renewable energy story is a great story for the regions, and one we’ve been waiting on for a long time.


Media Note:

To arrange an interview with Dr Simon Wright, please contact Jessica McLaughlin at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0430 510 538 or via news@csu.edu.au

The Gulbali Institute of Agriculture, Water and Environment is a strategic investment by Charles Sturt University to drive integrated research to optimise farming systems, enhance freshwater ecosystems and improve environmental management, to deliver benefits across Australia and globally.

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