Congress taps into growing energy for renewables

In 1997, when I got my first brick-sized mobile phone, there was no way I’d have predicted that in 20 years I could make video calls on a miniature computer. We know technological change moves fast, perhaps nowhere more so than in the electricity sector. 

From President Barack Obama to Australia's peak industry association the AI Group, there’s a growing consensus that the transition to clean energy is now inevitable.  

It is now cheaper to build new solar and wind farms than coal and gas power stations. This month, energy company AGL announced it would build the Silverton Wind Farm near Broken Hill for a record-breaking $65/megawatt hour (MWh). Compare to that $80/MWh for a new coal-fired power station.

And there’s no getting around the fact that we need to build new power generators, and soon. Three-quarters of Australia’s existing coal-fired power stations have passed their useful life, according to AGL’s own analysts.

With rising electricity prices (they’ve almost doubled in recent years) homeowners and, increasingly, businesses are turning to solar energy which is increasingly cost-effective.

Australians have embraced renewable energy and as polls show, the vast majority of us want more of it. This revolution is happening, but we need it to occur quickly, efficiently and fairly. That’s what the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne at the end of February is all about.

At the Congress, everyday Australians will have access to national and international energy experts who can explain how our laws must catch up with this rapid change. You’ll also hear success stories, of communities playing a leading role in taking control of our energy future. For me, such change can’t come fast enough.

Nicky Ison is founding director of Community Power Agency. Congress details: http://c4ce.net.au/congress/