IPA Research: One Third Of Prime Agricultural Land Sacrificed For Net Zero Pipe Dream

Written by:
11 December 2023
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“Policymakers cannot escape the reality of the impact wind and solar energy generation will have on Australia’s landscape, particularly on our prime agricultural land, which will have to be sacrificed to satisfy net zero mandates,” said Dr Kevin You, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs.

Today, the IPA released new research analysing the land use of forecast renewable energy production by 2050 as part of its regional tour throughout Victoria’s Mallee region and South Australia’s Riverland region, two regions under threat from new high voltage transmission lines.

The research finds that to generate the forecast energy demand by 2050 with a 50/50 mix of wind and solar, one third of Australia’s prime agricultural farmland will need to be covered in solar panels and wind turbines, specifically;

  • Using data supplied by Enerdata, the International Energy Agency, and the International Monetary Fund, the report forecasts that energy demand in Australia, and that of our trading partners, will grow by 4.25 per cent per annum to 2050.
  • Therefore, the amount of energy that is currently produced by coal, gas, and oil is estimated to increase to 15,459 terawatt hours by 2050.
  • To replace this with wind and solar generation will require between 57 million hectares and 181 million hectares of Australian land (depending on production mix), in addition to the land that is currently used to generate energy from wind and solar today.

“The federal government’s reckless ideological demand that Australia export ‘clean’ energy to our neighbours will obliterate regional communities, and the livelihood of farmers who feed and clothe Australia and the world,” said Dr You.

The land required for a 50/50 mix of wind and solar to replace energy generated by coal, gas, and oil to meet the forecast demand is estimated at 119 million hectares, equivalent to 15 per cent of Australia’s landmass and approximately one-third of all Australia’s agricultural land.

“As renewable energy generation will need to occur near existing population centres, it will be regional farming communities that will be sacrificed to meet the radical and niche demands of inner-city activists,” said Dr You.

Destroying Australia’s affordable and reliable baseload energy generation will not only see household energy bills continue to rapidly rise, but also undermine the nation’s energy security and our ability to produce the food and fibre we need to feed ourselves and our trading partners.

“As usual, it will not be wealthy, inner-city elites who will incur these burdens and costs mandated by the policy of net zero emissions by 2050. It will be working families and small businesses in the outer-suburbs and regions who pay the price,” said Dr You.

To download the IPA’s research click here.

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