2SM Afternoons Editorial Discussing IPA Renewable Land Use Research – 11 December 2023

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11 December 2023
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This audio clip contextualises and disseminates the findings of the IPA’s research into land use implications of renewable energy targets on prime agricultural land, conducted as part of the IPA’s Net Zero research program.

All media posted onto the IPA website are directly related to the promotion and dissemination of IPA research.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


Brent Bultitude:

Australia could lose one third of its productive agricultural land to solar panels and wind farms. Yes, that’s right. One third of its productive agricultural land to solar panels and wind farms if the government pushes forward with its plan to reach net zero emissions entirely through wind and solar. Not my opinion, it’s according to a new study. That’s what the new study has warned. The alert comes as the coalition has pushed to remove bans on uranium mining and exploration, as well as the ban on nuclear power plants, which have a much smaller footprint than solar and wind farms.

According to the analysis by the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia produced about 5,000 terawatt hours of energy from oil, gas, and coal in 2023. Due to growing energy demand in Australia and among our trading partners, the amount of energy that represents would increase to more than 15,000 terawatt hours by 2050. So what are we at the moment? We’re 5,000 terawatt hours of energy from oil, gas, and coal in 2023 by 2050, they’re saying that’s going to triple, 15,000 terawatt hours. And to meet the demand and become a renewable energy superpower, replacing that power with a 50-50 mix of wind and solar, it’s going to require 119 million hectares of land. Think about that, 119 million hectares of land. Now, that’s an amount equal to 15% of the country’s landmass and a third of all agricultural land because remember, large parts of Australia is desert.

The study notes that modelling by Net Zero Australia has already said that five Tasmanias worth of solar farms will be needed to produce the energy necessary to replace Australia’s current hydrocarbon fuel exports in addition to domestic consumption. So when you put it into a scale like that, five Tasmanias, five areas the size of Tasmania worth of solar farms, my goodness me. By contrast, nuclear power is very dense requiring far less land to generate an equivalent amount of electricity. At COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai last week, more than two dozen nations led by the US pledged to triple nuclear power generation capacity to meet net zero targets by 2050.

Opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien on Saturday urged Australia to remove restrictions on nuclear power. He said it’s time we took back energy security for the west and we should do so ambitiously for we had the capacity as a nation to do more than just supply uranium, but also develop capabilities in other areas of a nuclear fuel cycle. That’s what he said on the weekend.

Remember, at COP28, which is going on as we speak, that’s the climate summit in Dubai, last week more than two dozen nations led by the United States pledged to triple nuclear power generation capacity to help meet net-zero targets by 2050. Australia, Mr. Bowen has come out and said, “No, no, no. Nuclear energy, too expensive and we’ve missed the boat. It’s too late, it’ll take too long.” That is the catch cry of all Labour politicians. It’s too expensive and it will take too long to build. We’re not going to have anything to do with it. Why are we going against the tide here in Australia? If at this COP28 Climate Summit, more than two dozen nations of the world headed by the United States have pledged to triple nuclear power generation capacity, why are they wrong and Australia’s right? Chris Bowen is right? Why?

Seriously, who do you side, with the Chris Bowens of the world or the two dozen other nations led by the United States? Would you not think that they know what they’re doing? But no, Chris Bowen says he knows best. So we’re not going to have anything to do with nuclear energy according to Chris Bowen and co. It’s too expensive and it takes too long to build. But we can lose one third of our productive agricultural land to solar panels and wind farms because the government’s going to push forward with its plans to reach net-zero emissions entirely through wind and solar. As I said, add that up. It’s five Tasmanias worth of solar farms, five Tasmanias worth of solar farms. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t understand why one person, that being the minister, Chris Bowen, has so much, what’s the word? Power, authority, what he says goes. Yet more than two dozen other nations led by the United States have pledged to triple nuclear power generation and we won’t even start to talk about it.

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