Stepping stones: the slippery path to a clean energy future

There are several options for future energy generation. We just need to get there. waldopepper

In news today, the Greens are calling for an end to federal funding for a proposed coal- and gas-fuelled power plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. Others have suggested the plant provides a source of “transition” power: a stepping stone towards renewables.

So how much should we be investing in so-called transition fuels? Or should we be investing in renewables instead? And what will Australia’s electrical energy system look like in, say, 2050?

Well, it might consist of large-scale concentrating solar plants, rooftop photovoltaics (PV) on every building, wind and wave power, carbon capture and storage, or even nuclear.

Or perhaps more likely, we could be getting our energy from a combination of these technologies.

Much of what the 2050 energy landscape looks like depends on the decisions we make in the next decade as we move toward a low-carbon economy.

One of the hurdles to overcome is the need for so-called “baseload” power – power that will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We need to build a new energy system without disrupting this constant and reliable supply of power we currently enjoy.

The road to renewables

Finding a stepping-stone to transition from coal to low-carbon technologies may be one of the biggest challenges of the next decade.

It’s time to move beyond coal. Julian Smith/AAP