Here in the Territory, it’s everywhere and we have plenty of it.
Not only are thousands of Territorians using it to power their homes, communities, and businesses, it's employing a large number of local tradies and helping boost the NT economy.
And in a time of crisis, it's helping protect us from shocks to the global energy market. The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed unprecedented chaos on the oil industry, with demand plummeting and sending prices into the negative.
Last week four distinguished Australian academics from Macquarie University, University of Newcastle and University of New South Wales called for our massive COVID-19 economic stimulus to be used to manufacture real energy security in the form of renewables. “Right now, the best way to shore up Australia’s future energy supplies is to invest economic stimulus money in renewables – essentially to manufacture our own energy security,” they wrote in The Conversation.
They are not alone in making this call. Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, representing more than 60,000 businesses, also said we could be hitting two birds with one stone: economic recovery from the virus and the transition required to meet net-zero emissions by 2050.
Price instability in fossil fuels is all but guaranteed to increase in the future. This means we're standing at a crossroads: stick with a sinking ship or embrace an opportunity to manufacture energy security in the form of renewables and get the NT economy back on track.
Imagine a Territory dotted with solar panels, electrolysers, batteries and smart grids: together they can transform our abundance of sun into stored and distributed energy, ensuring a stable supply.
Produced in conjunction with the internationally recognised think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, our groundbreaking report The 10 Gigawatt Vision demonstrates that a thriving, zero emissions society is achievable and affordable now, and that the Territory can become a renewable energy superpower. Investment in 10 gigawatts of renewables by 2030 can create over 8,000 new jobs – particularly in high-tech, high-wage industries -- and over $2 billion in new annual revenue for the NT.
Beyond Zero Emissions is working with Australian communities including in the NT to finalise a post-COVID economic recovery plan. Their ‘Million Jobs Plan’ paves the way for Australia to become an international economic powerhouse and renewable energy superpower. The plan will “create employment, modernise our infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including in places where traditional heavy industry has gone, droughts and fires have ravaged the agricultural sector, unemployment is high and long term employment opportunities have appeared increasingly limited”.
Renewable energy is already stimulating the Territorian economy by employing a large number of electricians and tradespeople quickly. Solar and batteries also protects households and businesses from high electricity costs, reduces costs to the overall grid and supports the energy resilience, security and independence of Territorian communities.
Across the Territory, our community has stepped up in the face of the unprecedented challenge presented by Covid-19. Remote communities have acted early to protect themselves, while our cities and towns people have taken the advice to stay home to stay safe and supported one another through these unprecedented difficult times.
The Northern Territory that emerges from this crisis will look considerably different to the one we started this year with. And as we emerge, we have an incredible opportunity to reshape our communities and industries for the better and make a long-term investment into a stronger, more secure Territory.