Ballina MP Don Page says he was pleased with the response to the renewable energy forum held recently in Bangalow.

Hosted by Mr Page and the Green Coast Catalyst group, keynote speakers included Dr Adam Lucas from the University of Wollongong, who highlighted the fact that Australia is way behind many other countries in our use of renewable energy.

“Dr Lucas pointed out that in terms of electricity generation, Australia currently produces only 8.4% from renewables compared to China at 20%, Denmark 32%, Sweden 60%, California 20%, and Brazil at 85% (mainly hydropower),” Mr Page said.

“Australia’s target for 2020 is a mere 20% whereas China’s target is 40%, Denmark 50%, Sweden 90% and California is 40%.

“Dr Lucas also pointed out that many new jobs are being created in the renewable energy sector, with more than $120 billion spent globally in 2008.”

Opening the forum, Mr Page, who stated upfront that he believes climate change is real, said renewable energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which will slow the rate of climate change and give us more time to adapt. 

“Renewables are much cleaner fuels and much more sustainable in the medium and long-term,” he said.

“Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you should still be supporting increased use of renewables like solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and biofuels because with oil in decline we need other forms of energy for energy security purposes.

“We heard that at any one time Australia only has 10 days fuel supply should current supplies be interrupted. This makes us quite vulnerable from our energy security perspective.”

Other speakers at the forum included David Warrilow, who spoke on the topic ‘Peak Oil meets Climate Change’, Alecks Atrens on geothermal energy, Nick Lake and Gordon Fraser Quick on local solar options, Robert Rosen on Northern Rivers electric vehicle initiatives and Richard Wake from Country Energy on feed-in tariffs, Renewable Energy Certificates and green power.

The forum was facilitated by broadcaster and journalist Mick O’Regan and also included many displays from local businesses promoting their particular interests in renewable energy options.

“More than 200 people attended the forum, which was encouraging on a Sunday morning,” Mr Page said.

“We all left the forum with a wider understanding of renewable energy options but the overwhelming ‘take home message’ was that Australia needs to get its act together on renewables and we need to be much stronger in promoting and encouraging the renewable energy sector.”