IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Can Australia Run on Renewable Energy: Unsettled Issues and Implications


  • Ted Trainer

    (University of New South Wales)


Although the possibility of renewable energy supply meeting 100% of demand is widely assumed the issue remains unsettled. This paper discusses some of the central questions that need clarification or possible resolution before we can decide whether the goal is achievable. These include the need for simulations, storage options, the EROI values for whole renewable supply systems, and the probable dollar costs of whole systems capable of meeting all energy demand whilst providing for intermittency. Examination of several Australian simulations indicates that significant difficulties and uncertainties remain to be resolved, and the discussion of these supports the case that 100% supply systems will be at the least very costly and might be unaffordable.

Suggested Citation

  • Ted Trainer, 2022. "Can Australia Run on Renewable Energy: Unsettled Issues and Implications," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 1-17, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:bioerq:v:7:y:2022:i:4:d:10.1007_s41247-022-00107-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s41247-022-00107-z

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Riesz, Jenny & Elliston, Ben, 2016. "Research and deployment priorities for renewable technologies: Quantifying the importance of various renewable technologies for low cost, high renewable electricity systems in an Australian case study," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 298-308.
    2. Trainer, Ted, 2018. "Estimating the EROI of whole systems for 100% renewable electricity supply capable of dealing with intermittency," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 648-653.
    3. Connolly, D. & Lund, H. & Mathiesen, B.V. & Pican, E. & Leahy, M., 2012. "The technical and economic implications of integrating fluctuating renewable energy using energy storage," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 47-60.
    4. Elliston, Ben & Diesendorf, Mark & MacGill, Iain, 2012. "Simulations of scenarios with 100% renewable electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 606-613.
    5. Elliston, Ben & MacGill, Iain & Diesendorf, Mark, 2013. "Least cost 100% renewable electricity scenarios in the Australian National Electricity Market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 270-282.
    6. Megan K. Seibert & William E. Rees, 2021. "Through the Eye of a Needle: An Eco-Heterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(15), pages 1-19, July.
    7. Falko Ueckerdt & Christian Bauer & Alois Dirnaichner & Jordan Everall & Romain Sacchi & Gunnar Luderer, 2021. "Potential and risks of hydrogen-based e-fuels in climate change mitigation," Nature Climate Change, Nature, vol. 11(5), pages 384-393, May.
    8. Vincent Moreau & Piero Carlo Dos Reis & François Vuille, 2019. "Enough Metals? Resource Constraints to Supply a Fully Renewable Energy System," Resources, MDPI, vol. 8(1), pages 1-18, January.
    9. Yousefzadeh, Moslem & Lenzen, Manfred, 2019. "Performance of concentrating solar power plants in a whole-of-grid context," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 1-1.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Trainer, Ted, 2022. "A technical critique of the Green New Deal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 195(C).
    2. Keck, Felix & Jütte, Silke & Lenzen, Manfred & Li, Mengyu, 2022. "Assessment of two optimisation methods for renewable energy capacity expansion planning," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 306(PA).
    3. Lu, Bin & Blakers, Andrew & Stocks, Matthew, 2017. "90–100% renewable electricity for the South West Interconnected System of Western Australia," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 663-674.
    4. Trainer, Ted, 2017. "Some problems in storing renewable energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 386-393.
    5. Hansen, Kenneth & Breyer, Christian & Lund, Henrik, 2019. "Status and perspectives on 100% renewable energy systems," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 471-480.
    6. Keck, Felix & Lenzen, Manfred & Vassallo, Anthony & Li, Mengyu, 2019. "The impact of battery energy storage for renewable energy power grids in Australia," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 647-657.
    7. Yousefzadeh, Moslem & Lenzen, Manfred, 2019. "Performance of concentrating solar power plants in a whole-of-grid context," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 1-1.
    8. Ma, Weiwu & Xue, Xinpei & Liu, Gang, 2018. "Techno-economic evaluation for hybrid renewable energy system: Application and merits," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 385-409.
    9. Cheung, Grace & Davies, Peter J., 2017. "In the transformation of energy systems: what is holding Australia back?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 96-108.
    10. Lenzen, Manfred & McBain, Bonnie & Trainer, Ted & Jütte, Silke & Rey-Lescure, Olivier & Huang, Jing, 2016. "Simulating low-carbon electricity supply for Australia," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 553-564.
    11. Molyneaux, Lynette & Froome, Craig & Wagner, Liam & Foster, John, 2013. "Australian power: Can renewable technologies change the dominant industry view?," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 215-221.
    12. Elliston, Ben & Riesz, Jenny & MacGill, Iain, 2016. "What cost for more renewables? The incremental cost of renewable generation – An Australian National Electricity Market case study," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 127-139.
    13. Burke, Kerry B., 2014. "The reliability of distributed solar in critical peak demand: A capital value assessment," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 103-110.
    14. Nzotcha, Urbain & Kenfack, Joseph & Blanche Manjia, Marceline, 2019. "Integrated multi-criteria decision making methodology for pumped hydro-energy storage plant site selection from a sustainable development perspective with an application," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 930-947.
    15. Kiwan, Suhil & Al-Gharibeh, Elyasa, 2020. "Jordan toward a 100% renewable electricity system," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 147(P1), pages 423-436.
    16. Wu, Yunyang & Reedman, Luke J. & Barrett, Mark A. & Spataru, Catalina, 2018. "Comparison of CST with different hours of storage in the Australian National Electricity Market," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 487-496.
    17. Mathiesen, B.V. & Lund, H. & Connolly, D. & Wenzel, H. & Østergaard, P.A. & Möller, B. & Nielsen, S. & Ridjan, I. & Karnøe, P. & Sperling, K. & Hvelplund, F.K., 2015. "Smart Energy Systems for coherent 100% renewable energy and transport solutions," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 139-154.
    18. Solomon, A.A. & Kammen, Daniel M. & Callaway, D., 2016. "Investigating the impact of wind–solar complementarities on energy storage requirement and the corresponding supply reliability criteria," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 130-145.
    19. Hasan, Kazi Nazmul & Saha, Tapan Kumar & Eghbal, Mehdi, 2014. "Investigating the priority of market participants for low emission generation entry into the Australian grid," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 445-455.
    20. Rodriguez, Rolando A. & Becker, Sarah & Greiner, Martin, 2015. "Cost-optimal design of a simplified, highly renewable pan-European electricity system," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 658-668.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:bioerq:v:7:y:2022:i:4:d:10.1007_s41247-022-00107-z. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.