ACT NOW: Going green has never been cheaper
THE head of prominent Northern Rivers solar company Paul O'Rielly is reminding locals how switching to renewable energy can help people act to solve the climate crisis.
Recapping his speech at last month's Student Strike Against Climate Change in Lismore, the Rainbow Power Company director echoed the belief that there was no point waiting for a new green government to take action against climate change, people must act now.
"Scientists tell us we have less than eight years to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions to limiting temperature rise to more than 2C," he said.
"For many years climate change deniers have argued that we cannot address emissions without risk of economic and social collapse.
"The challenge of decarbonising our economies is large but don't let anyone say it can't be done. Since the invention of electricity we have had the technology to solve climate change, the question has been the cost."
He said the majority of CO2 emissions in Australia came from two sectors of the economy.
"53 per cent emissions comes from stationary sector, from burning coal and gas for electricity generation, while 15 per cent comes from transport sector, from our use of petrol and diesel.
"The good news is we have a technical solution to 70 per cent of our emissions dilemma.
"This can be solved through transitioning electricity generation to 100 per cent renewables and our transport fleet to electric vehicles.
"The challenge is that replacing infrastructure takes time, once an asset is purchased it remains in the fleet for many years. This means we must act now. All new infrastructure needs to be zero emissions."
He said the cost of renewables was one of the good news stories of climate change.
"Up until now fossil fuels have been the cheaper option," he said.
"The tide has now turned. Economies of scale have seen a dramatic reduction in the cost of solar and batteries.
"In 2008 I purchase my first 135w solar panel for $1500. In 2019 a new 310w solar panel is only $230. This represents a 95 per cent cost reduction in 10 years."
"Don't trust anyone that says renewables costs too much.
"We don't need new subsidies for solar, we need to stop government propping up fossil fuels."
Mr O'Rielly said by choosing solar, people could reduce emissions and also save money.
"At RPC we currently see solar payback timeframes as low as three years for residential/small commercial customers," he said.
You are currently faced with a choice, buy coal and gas power for 25-30c per kWh or install solar at 10c per kWh.
"If you don't believe me "follow the money" - companies such as Facebook, Google and Ikea are all going 100 per cent renewable.
"100 per cent of new generation built on the Australian grid is now renewable. Banks won't touch fossil fuel generators. Solar is now the cheapest form of electricity."
So what can you do to help the transition to 100 per cent renewables?
Mr O'Rielly outlined ways people could help the transition.
"Ask your parents, principal, boss why they are paying twice the price for the privilege to ruin the environment," he said.
"Get three quotes for solar. These quotes should outline the cost savings of different system choices, a well designed solar system pays for itself in under five years.
"Have a plan to reinvest the savings in upgrading the system in the near future.
"In eight years you should be able to produce enough power to cover not only your houses consumption but generate enough to support your transport needs as well.
"Look seriously at purchasing an electric vehicle as your next car."