The ACT Government Plans on ‘Electrifying Canberra’ by 2045

The ACT Government Plans on ‘Electrifying Canberra’ by 2045
Sheep graze in front of wind turbines on Lake George on the outskirts of Canberra. Image: David Grey/Getty Images

The ACT is on a renewables roll. Or as its Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury puts it, “the ACT is electrifying”.

After announcing last month that internal combustion (ICE) vehicles will be phased out in Canberra from 2035, the ACT government has today doubled down, committing to phase out fossil fuel gas by 2045. And, “electrify Canberra with renewable electricity over the next two decades”.

Although that looks like a 1995 TV ad from the 11 pm free-to-air slot, the message is one we love to see. A “bold, nation-leading, necessary climate change policy”, Rattenbury declared.

According to the minister, fossil fuel gas currently accounts for 20 per cent of the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing Canberra’s gas reliance, he said, is a critical part of achieving the ACT’s commitment of net zero emissions by 2045.

“With a 100 per cent renewable electricity supply, electrifying Canberra makes sense and offers the most efficient and reliable zero-emissions option for our future,” Rattenbury explained in the Twitter thread.

“This is a big transition, and we will ensure it happens in an orderly way. That’s why we’re making this announcement early and allowing two decades for our community to make the necessary changes.”

In a statement, it was highlighted that the announcement reiterates the long-term objective to prioritise the use of 100 per cent renewable electricity and remove fossil fuel gas from the territory. It said that in reaching this policy decision, the government had considered all options, including the possible use of hydrogen and biogas.

“Following that consideration, it is clear that electrification is the best path for our city to phase out fossil fuel gas,” the statement read.

So what’s the plan?

As part of the initial phase of the transition, new “greenfields” suburbs will no longer be connected to gas mains, and from 2023 new gas connections will cease for future infill developments.

The ACT government has launched an interactive online hub to help Canberrans transition and it’s also developing an “Integrated Energy Plan” (for release by 2024) to “set the foundations for a gentle and manageable transition over the next two decades and also consider the use of renewable gas in niche applications”.

There’s still a long way to go, but phasing out fossil fuel gas in the ACT by 2045 is definitely a start.