The Hume chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) hosted a talk on pumped hydro.
The guest speaker was ANU Professor Andrew Blakers. He has held several fellowships and is a life member of the International Solar Energy Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
He was a lead inventor of PERC silicon solar cell technology and co-inventor of Sliver solar cell technology.
Prof Blakers talked about pumped hydro and the fact that Australia has one of the most competitive solar industries in the world. He added that solar and wind are already cheaper than new coal in most parts of the world, contradicting several myths around renewables and their cost.
He shed light on the availability of raw materials used for solar cells, one of the main components being silicon, which is found in abundance in the earth's crust.
"The virtually unlimited supply of the raw materials needed to make solar cells is one reason why the cost of solar is only going down," he said.
Prof Blakers told locals that the only obstacles for renewable energy currently are storage and transmission.
"This is where pumped hydro comes into the equation as a storage source, with 3000 good sites in Australia having been identified for off-river pumped hydro, 300 times more than needed to support a 100% renewables grid. These are all off-river sites, outside national parks and urban areas. They require only enough water for the initial fill, and methods can be employed to limit evaporation," he said.
With 85% of emissions being from coal, gas and oil, Prof Blakers pointed out that it is easy to make substantial reductions in Australia's emissions using renewable energy solar, wind and pumped hydro alone.
Prof Blakers pointed out the Goulburn district's unique position geographically, with Hume being one of the most promising electorates for renewable energy in Australia in terms of its potential for both solar and wind as well as pumped hydro storage.
"The district is also located in close proximity to major cities and has access to high-voltage power lines, making it ideally situated in all important respects," he said.
"Transforming the region into a Renewable Energy Zone would unlock billions of dollars of investment (estimated at 10 to 20 billion dollars) and ample employment opportunities."
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