Power bills could be about 60 per cent less in 40 years’ time than they are today if energy efficiencies and low emissions technologies are taken advantage of, a new report suggests.
CSIRO’s Australian National Outlook compares two versions of the nation in 2060 – a scenario where economic, social and environmental challenges are tackled head on, and another where they are not.
Australia will enter a “slow decline” if the challenges are not dealt with, the report says.
The positive scenario is achieved through pulling policy levers in industry, urban planning, energy, land use and cultural shifts.
For instance, the energy policy levers include increasing efficiencies through technology and turning renewables into economic opportunities, such as exporting hydrogen.
The electricity grid could be almost entirely 100 per cent renewables by 2050, due to declining costs and market forces.
“Even with that transition to renewables, energy affordability increases,” research lead James Deverell says.
“Households could be spending as much as 64 per cent less on electricity as a percentage of their income compared to today.”
Australia could have 37 per cent renewables by 2060 and ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In the alternative scenario Australia meets its international emissions reduction targets through the use of carryover credits, before pollution levels stagnate after 2030.
Looking to industry and economic growth, new technology should be embraced to boost productivity and employees should undergo education to keep up with technological change.
The third lever sees Australia finding new sources of economic growth, such as advanced manufacturing and low emissions energy.
Living standards could be 33 to 36 per cent higher and wages 90 per cent higher in such an outlook.
The report includes input from more than 50 leaders from companies such as NAB, ASX, Shell, Red Cross, Uniting Care, who were asked what they thought was important for Australia’s future.
The study also flags major challenges for Australia in the future, namely disruptive technologies, changing demographics, the rise of Asia, social cohesion, climate change and loss of trust in institutions.
Mr Deverell says achieving the positive scenario is in Australia’s control.
“It’s not going to happen automatically. It’s going to take bold leadership, strong action and, really, a long-term view across these five shifts,” he said.