The secret to hitting net zero targets and solving climate change is “electrifying everything”, according to Australian inventor Dr. Saul Griffith.
Speaking to the ABC, Griffith explained why he’s one of the biggest backers of the “electrify everything” approach to climate change.
“If I had to choose the country for whom electrifying everything is the best economic win in the shortest amount of time … it is Australia,” he told the ABC.
“Electrify everything is a very, very good mantra for how we will solve climate change in the next few decades.”
Basically, the concept aims to replace anything that runs on an internal combustion engine (ICE) — like cars and gas heaters — with electric alternatives.
And if it sounds like a stupidly simple idea, that’s because it is. We already know how to electrify these items, and in many cases, already have electric alternatives, so there’s no reason why Australia couldn’t do this.
“It is an easy slam dunk. It’s not even particularly invasive to our quality of life,” Griffith said, noting that Australia is in a particularly good place to do this.
“For every other country, including America, it’s much harder and the economics are not as good.”
While this sounds like it could be a huge — and expensive — task, Griffith asserts that solar and wind power, and lithium-ion batteries are cheaper than ever, which means people can convert to more energy-efficient options with minimal impact on their way of life.
As it currently stands, one-fifth of Australian households have a solar panelled roof, so this would be reasonably easy to increase to approximately 75 per cent.
“There’d be solar over car parks, solar on churches, in parking lots and over schools,” Griffith suggested.
While other things like switching to an electric vehicle are a bit harder and more of an upfront cost, Griffith asserts that there are only seven changes Australians would need to make, which makes it feel way less daunting than you’d expect.
“You’ve got to get the thing on the roof, you’ve got to change the two things in the garage, you’ve got to put two vehicle chargers in the house,” he said.
“You have to electrify the water heater, electrify the space heating, and have some form of batteries in the house, as well as the vehicle batteries.
“And then probably you need to upgrade the electrical panel.”
Obviously, it’s worth noting that not everyone is in a financial place to just splash out on a new EV or solar panels right now because, you know, the pandemic. But experts have stressed that the change doesn’t need to be immediate, instead focussing on the message that your next upgrade to cars, heaters and other ICE devices should be electric.
“We need to make sure that the next time every one of those machines is replaced, it’s replaced with a better electric,” he said.
Not to mention, investing a little bit more in an eco-friendly device could actually save you money in the long run, especially when it comes to solar panels.
According to the experts — including Andrew Blakers, director of Australian National University’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems — we need to double the rate in which we’re adopting solar and wind energy to hit our targets for net zero. But, as it turns out, that’s an entirely achievable goal.
“This is straightforward considering that the deployment rate of solar and wind in 2015 was only 1GW,” he said.