Electrify everything! That’s the new mantra being promoted by a new think tank led by Australian inventor and US government advisor Saul Griffith, who started with Rewiring America push, and has now decided to do the same in his home country, Rewiring Australia.
Griffith and The Australia Institute have launched a new discussion paper called “Castles and Cars”, that outlines how much Australian households can save if they electrified everything, including the cars, their household heating, their water heating and their cooking. No word on the BBQ, though.
Griffith is not the first to come up with the electrify everything idea – although a decade ago he was promoting a concept called “Renewistan” – but he could be the most prominent.
When he first talked of the detail of electrifying everything in the Australian context, in January last year, he presented a series of numbers and costs so absurdly extravagant – $5 trillion for am Australian clean energy transition, and $850 billion just for households – that the AFR used it as justification to call for doing exactly the opposite.
We challenged those numbers at the time, because they were ridiculous. See: $5 trillion? For a business daily, the AFR has a lousy grip on energy numbers, and it is satisfying to see that Griffith has re-honed his calculations, and presented a much more realistic model.
And the good news is that an electrified household presents an unequivocally cheaper and less wasteful future for everyone. We sometimes forget exactly how much energy is wasted in the production and burning of fossil fuels – around two thirds – and Castles and Cars notes that the energy use of an average household could be slashed from 102kWh a day (including energy consumed in the petrol or diesel cars), to just 37kWh.
“The “average” Australian household currently uses around 102kWh of energy per day, and spends $5,248 per year on energy related costs,” the discussion paper says.
“Much of this energy use is due to the inefficiency of conventional fuels like natural gas and petrol for cars, which also create a large amount of emissions.
“These fuels are both expensive and highly polluting. The average household annually releases 11 tonnes of CO2-e into the atmosphere from its energy use activities.
“If we electrify the ‘average’ Australian household, with solar panels on the roof, a home battery, electric vehicles in the garage, and replacement of gas appliances with efficient electric ones, we can save thousands per year in household costs for the average home by 2030.
“The efficiency gains from new appliances and vehicles drops energy use significantly to around 37 kWh, and Australia’s world leading solar is cheap enough to power the house while saving money.”
What will this save? According to Castles and Cars, the average energy and fuel bills would drop from around $5000 a year to just $800 a year by 2030, as costs of EVs and batteries and solar continue to fall, and even more by 2035.
The problem is, most households cannot afford this capital investment up front – in EVs, rooftop solar and battery storage – so it urging rebates and financing to low income households in the early transition phase, at least until the cost of EVs falls to parity with petrol and diesel cars.
It says this needs to be a national priority, in the same way we treated Snowy, and the way we are treating Snowy 2.0. Or spending money on the Covid Jobkeeper.
And it certainly won’t cost $860 billion.
To read the full story on One Step Off The Grid sister site, RenewEconomy, click here…