Analysis Of Land Use By Variable Renewable Energy Production By 2050

Written by: and
11 December 2023
Analysis Of Land Use By Variable Renewable Energy Production By 2050 - Featured image

As part of the policy of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the federal government has declared its ambition for Australia to be a ‘renewable energy superpower’ and ‘renewable energy export superpower’.

The purpose of this research report is to calculate the amount of Australian land that will be required to generate the energy needed for Australia to become a ‘Renewable Energy Superpower’ by the year 2050. The estimates are based on four scenarios.

Scenario 1: All renewable energy produced in Australia to replace energy from coal, gas, and oil will be derived from solar power:

The land required could amount to 57 million hectares.

This is equivalent to over 7 per cent of Australia’s landmass, over 15 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land, or an area equal to eight Tasmanias.

Scenario 2: All renewable energy produced in Australia to replace energy from coal, gas, and oil, will be derived from wind power.

The land required could amount to 181 million hectares.

This is equivalent to 23 per cent of Australia’s landmass, approximately half of all Australia’s agricultural land, or an area approximately the size of the entire state of Queensland. 

Scenario 3: All renewable energy produced in Australia to replace energy from coal, gas, and oil is derived from wind and solar based on a solar-intensive renewable expansion.

In the third scenario, we assume that the renewable energy produced in Australia to replace energy from coal, gas, and oil will be a combination of both solar and wind power with much greater reliance on solar (at a ratio of approximately 9:1) as considered by Net Zero Australia.

The land required could amount to 68 million hectares.

This is equivalent to 9 per cent of Australia’s landmass, over 18 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land, or an area equivalent to ten Tasmanias. 

Scenario 4: All renewable energy produced in Australia to replace energy from coal, gas, and oil is derived from wind and solar in equal proportion.

In the fourth scenario, we assume that the renewable energy produced in Australia to replace energy from coal, gas, and oil will be 50 per cent solar and 50 per cent wind power.

The land required could amount to 119 million hectares.

This is equivalent to 15 per cent of Australia’s landmass, approximately one-third of all Australia’s agricultural land, or an area larger  than the size of South Australia.

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