BEYOND ZERO EMISSIONS Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan for 100% renewable energy (electricity, transport) by 2020

Beyond Zero Emissions is an Australian  climate action group which wants “a decarbonised Australian economy by 2020” . BZE states: “Our goal is to facilitate the implementation of the social changes and technologies that will reduce the impacts of climate change and give our society and global ecosystems a chance of surviving into the future”. BZE has produced a detailed Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan involving 100% renewable electricity by 2020 (see: ).


1. BZE  in the Conclusion, Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan Synopsis (July 2010): “The ZCA2020 [Zero Carbon Australia 2020] Stationary Energy Plan outlines a fully costed and detailed blueprint for transforming Australia’s energy sources to 100% renewable supply. This is achievable using technology [wind, concentrated solar thermal with molten salt energy storage, and HV DC and HV AC transmission] that is commercially available today, with no technical barriers to their deployment. Implementing the proposed infrastructure in ten year sis well within the capability of Australia’s existing industrial  capacity. The required investment [$370 billion] is the equivalent of a stimulus to the [$1 trillion] economy of 3% of GDP.   

100% renewable energy in ten years is achievable and necessary, ensuring Australia’s energy security, national security and economic prosperity for the future. Australia has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world, and should be positioning itself as a leader in the emerging renewable energy economy. What is required to make this happen is leadership from policymakers and society with firm decisions made quickly that will allow this transition to occur”. [1].


Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) ZCA2020 Plan   


100% Renewable Stationary Energy for Australia by 2020


BZE has 20 volunteer engineers plus numerous volunteer supporters (presenters, office, IT, design): “Our goal is to facilitate the implementation of the social changes and technologies that will reduce the impacts of climate change and give our society and global ecosystems a chance of surviving into the future.”


BZE launched the ZCA2020 Plan in 2010 in conjunction with the University of Melbourne Energy Institute. It has received wide scientific, academic and business support and some tripartisan commendation (Bob Carr, Malcolm Turnbull, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam).


Google BZE for free download of the ZCA2020 Report or the much shorter ZCA2020 Synopsis. You can buy hard copies of the ZCA2020 Report from the University of Melbourne Energy Institute.


BZE is currently working on further Reports in relation to Transport, Agriculture and Land Use, Buildings and Industry.


Key features of the ZCA2020 Plan


A. Why Australia must get to zero CO2 emissions by 2020.


Professor Hans Joachim  Schellnhuber CBE (Potsdam Institute, Germany) says that for a 67% chance of avoiding a disastrous 2 degree C temperature rise (EU policy), the world must cease carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050 (not good odds: would you board a plane that had a 33% chance of crashing?). If we accept that “all men are created equal” then we must have equal shares in polluting the atmosphere until 2050. This means that high annual per capita CO2 polluters such as the US and Australia must cease by 2020 whereas India and Burkina Faso can actually increase CO2 pollution before finally ceasing in 2050.


Greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution largely involves CO2 but also includes other GHGs such as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and man-made chorofluorohydrocarbons (CFCs), the total GHG pollution being measured as CO2-equivalent (CO2-e).  “Annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), less than 3 (many African and Island countries), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included) (Google “Climate Genocide”).

B. ZCA2020 Plan:  60% Concentrated Solar Thermal with molten salts energy storage, 40% Wind plus HVAC/HVDC grid & biomass and hydroelectric backup.


1. BZE deliberately chose 2 established, commercial,  renewable technologies,  specifically Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) with molten salts energy storage and Wind turbines  (that are being widely applied commercially already) in order to establish a “proof of principle” i.e. we can achieve 100% renewable energy by 2020 for Australia using existing commercially-applied technologies.


2. CST with molten salts energy storage involves a Power Tower surrounded by a field of mirrors (heliostats) that concentrate the solar radiation at the top of the Power Tower where it heats molten salts (potassium and sodium nitrate, melting point 220C) from a “cold” tank (290C) to 565C, this heated solution being stored in a “hot” tank. The heat is used to generate steam which drives a turbine and thence generates electricity. Molten salts storage means that the system can operate 24/7. Such systems are already supplying commercial power in the US and Spain. Nineteen (19) 220MW (million watt) modules will form each of twelve (12)  3,500 MW solar regions (42,000 MW capacity in total; capacity factor 75%)


3. Wind turbines would be used in 23 regions for a total of 6,400 turbines (28,000 MW; capacity factor 30%).


4. High voltage direct current (HVDC) and high voltage alternating current (HVAC) links would make up an efficient national  grid.


5. Extensive modeling based on real meteorological data shows that in this system solar energy would supplement available wind energy to achieve required power. Biomass and hydrolelectric backup would be available for those rare occasions of low wind and low sunshine.


6. $370 billion cost over 10 years. Australia has the steel, concrete and labor resources to enable implementation and there would be 40,000 ongoing new jobs in maintenance and operations of the system (peak construction labor force 75,000). 


7. Increased energy efficiency (e.g. in transport, buildings, heating and cooling) is a key part of the scheme. Indeed the power capacity would increase by 40% (from 50,000 MW now to 70,000 MW under ZCA2020) to enable electrified transport.


NB. This is just the beginning. Top scientists say that we must urgently reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration from the current 392 parts per million (ppm) to 300 ppm for a safe planet for all peoples and all species (e.g. by biochar production,  re-afforestation and ceasing livestock GHG pollution) (Google

3. 100% renewable energy by 2020 for Australia.

1. As analyzed by Professor Schellnhuber (see B1), Australia needs to get to 0% CO2 emissions by about 2020 but it is quite clear that there is bipartisan agreement for a policy of increasing Australia’s domestic plus Exported GHG pollution i.e. 5% off 2000 level by 2020 coupled with a huge increase in coal and LNG exports and in unaddressed agricultural GHG pollution. Australia’s stationary energy production is responsible for about 30% of Australia’s total GHG pollution (however the exact proportion needs to be re-assessed because of recent re-assessments from the World Bank that global livestock production contributes over 51% of total annual global GHG pollution). It is clearly possible for Australia and other countries to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2020 - 2030 as set out below. [2, 3].

2. Professor Mark Z. Jacobson (Stanford University) and Mark A. Delucchi have set out a plan for 100% renewable energy for the world by 2030 using renewables such as wind, concentrated solar thermal, wave, tidal and geothermal energy. [4].

3, Professor David McKay FRS (Physics Department, Cambridge University and energy adviser to the UK Government) has set out a plan for renewable energy for the UK. Unlike Australia, the UK has limited solar energy resources and would have to tighten its belt energy-wise or import solar energy form North Africa. [5].

4. A scheme for 100% renewable energy for Australia has been set out by top electrical engineer Professor Peter Seligman (a major player in development of the bionic ear. Professor Seligman’s scheme involves involving wind, solar thermal, other energy sources, hydrological energy storage (in dams on the Nullabor Plain in Southern Australia), a HV AC and HV DC electricity transmission grid and a cost over 20 years of $253 billion. [6].

5. An important group of science-informed climate activists is Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) that in mid-2010 released an important and much-acclaimed plan for 100% renewable stationary energy for Australia by 2020 (Zero Carbon Australia by 2020, ZCA 2020). The BZE ZCA2020 Plan involves 40% wind energy, 60% concentrated solar thermal (CST) with molten salts energy storage for 24/7 baseload power, biomass and hydroelectric backup (for days of no wind and low sunshine) and a HV DC and HC AC national power grid. The BZE scheme was costed at $370 billion over 10 years, with roughly half spent on CST, one quarter on wind and one quarter on the national electricity grid. [7].

6. Another variant that could notionally give huge renewable energy for Australia by 2020 equivalent to 80% of its predicted 2020 energy needs [8] would be 80% wind energy with hydrological (or other) energy storage and other energy for 24/7 operation, noting that wind power installation is about 3-fold cheaper than solar thermal power installation [9]. Thus ignoring cost-increasing energy storage and transmission grid costs and cost-decreasing economies of scale for a 2- to10-fold size increase, here are 2 similar cost estimates for installation of wind power for 80% of Australia’s projected 325,000 GWh of annual electrical energy by 2020: (1) 90,000 MW capacity, 260,000 GWh/year, $200 billion/10 years (10-fold scale-up from GL Garrad Hassan, [44]) and (2) 96,000 MW, 260,000 GWh/year, $144 billion (2-fold scale-up of BZE’s Wind Power proposal [7]).

7. All kinds of renewable energy mixes can be envisaged for 100% renewable energy by 2020 for Australia using existing commercial technologies coupled with major increases in energy efficiency and in particular renewable energy-based electrification of public and private transport and indeed substantial elimination of private transport [6, 7. 11]. Note that wave, tidal, geothermal and cheaper solar PV technologies are in development [46, 47]. Australia spends $12 billion yearly on Carbon Subsidies (see A5), $20 billion yearly on gambling and $40 billion per year on insurance as compared to the estimated cost of $14-20 billion per year for an 80% wind energy component of our projected energy needs by 2020 (see C6). [7].

8. Unfortunately, the major parties in Australia are committed to coal and gas exports and to the convenient falsehood that a coal burning to gas burning transition would be “cleaner” greenhouse gas-wise – this egregious falsehood is analyzed in the next section [14-17]. The Renewable Energy Target (RET) Bill passed by the Australian Parliament (August 2009) sets a target of “20% renewable energy by 2020” and measures this by allotting 1 Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) per 1 MWh (megawatt hour = million watt hour) of renewable electricity generated and put into the grid. However what can be regarded as renewable energy (clean energy) under the legislation includes a number of clearly non-renewable components, most notoriously “Phantom renewable energy” or “fake accountant’s renewable energy” (whereby 5 RECs are issued for every 1 MWh of solar or wind electricity put into the power grid) and natural gas (methane) e.g. Coal (C ) -, oil ( (CH2)n) - or gas (CH4) -based electricity for electric hot water (clearly non-renewable energy), gas (CH4) -based or other carbon (C)-based electricity for solar hot water (clearly non-renewable energy), methane gas (CH4) from coal seams (clearly non-renewable energy), and methane gas (CH4) from land-fill (clearly non-renewable energy). This is an absurd and indeed counterproductive way to tackle Australia’s world-leading annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution. [14, 15, 18]


[1]. Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), Conclusion, Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan Synopsis, p17, July 2010: .

2. Gideon Polya, “Australia’s “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020” endangers Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere”, YVCAG: .

3.  Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang. “Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are … cows, pigs and chickens?”, World Watch, November/December 2009: .

4.  Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, “A path to sustainable energy by 2030”, Scientific American, November 2009, pp 58 – 65: .

5. David McKay, “Sustainable energy without the hot air”, UIT, Cambridge, UK: .

6.Peter Seligman, “Australian sustainable energy – by the numbers”, Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne , 2010: .

7.  Beyond Zero Emissions Zero (BZE), Zero Carbon Australia by 2020 Report (BZE ZCA2020 Report), 2010: .

8. ABARE: .

9. Infigen: .

10. GL Garrad Hassan: .

11. Martin Mahy, “Hydrogen minibuses” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics”, pp250-256, edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007.

12. Mark Diesendorf, “A sustainable energy future for Australia”, in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics”, pp242-249, edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007.

13. John Veevers, “The Innamincka hit fractured rocl project” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics”, pp236-241, edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007.

14. Gideon Polya, “Australia absurdly declares methane burning clean and renewable”, Countercurrents, 26 August 2009: .

15. Gideon Polya, “Gas is dirty energy & may be dirtier than coal - Oz Labor’s "gas is clean energy" means Put Labor Last”, Bellaciao, 10 June 2010: .

16. “Gulf oil & gas disaster, lobbyists, Obama & huge threat of natural gas (methane) to Humanity & Biosphere”, Bellaciao, 19 June 2010:  .

17.  “Resource to stop gas-fired power plants, fossil fuel burning, GHG pollution & man-made climate change”, Bellaciao, 27 February 2011: .

18.  Gideon Polya, “Carbon Price & Climate Change Action Fact Sheet for leading per capita greenhouse gas polluter Australia”, Bellaciao, 14 March 2011: .