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ANU experts add spark to national energy debate

Originally published in ANU, On Campus, September 9 2011

Two ANU academics recently told a public seminar in Darwin how the Northern Territory can help Australia meet its energy needs in the 21st century.

Dr Jamie Pittock and Dr Karen Hussey from the Crawford School of Economics and Government addressed a public forum at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

The seminar looked at how Australia can simultaneously meet growing energy demands, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, protect and conserve its freshwater resources, and maintain energy security. Speakers also looked at the consequences of shifting from traditional fossil fuel energy-generation to renewable energy.

Both ANU academics told the forum that the Northern Territory had a key role to play in meeting the nation’s future energy needs. Dr Pittock said the Top End of Australia provided unique opportunities to help the development of sustainable energy solutions.

“Climate change mitigation is about generating cleaner energy or sequestering carbon, but most of these measures can consume more water, aggravating scarcity. For instance, planting trees to sequester carbon reduces inflows into rivers,” he said.

“The Top End of Australia has some wonderful options to help in the quest for sustainability. Future ANU and CDU collaboration may help governments, businesses and residents realise this potential.”

Dr Karen Hussey said that Australia can also learn from many of the international experiments in energy transformation.

“Meeting Australia’s energy needs in the 21st century while simultaneously shifting to a ‘carbon neutral’ economy will require courageous, creative, ‘big thinking’ policies on the part of the Australian Government,” she said.

“Drawing on the EU-Middle East-North Africa project, Desertec,  Australia could become a net exporter of renewable energy through solar power generation, using the desert and sun in the Northern Territory to generate energy for the domestic energy market, and then export the excess capacity to Indonesia through high-voltage direct current cables.”

For more information on this seminar visit http://riel.cdu.edu.au/

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About Simon Copland

Simon Copland is a freelance writer and climate campaigner. In his spare time he plays rugby union and is a David Bowie fanatic. He is a regular columnist for the Sydney Star Observer, blogs at The Moonbat and tweets at @SimonCopland.

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