Free electricity for every household’s essential energy needs could deliver energy equity

A popular refrain of the renewable energy transition is it will deliver an energy system that is more democratic, as well as decarbonised. That the political power of generating energy will shift from big power companies to households, as a result of us being able to generate and control electrical power from our rooftop solar, batteries, electric vehicles, etc.

But this decentralised, democratic narrative isn’t a foregone conclusion.

For many years Dr Bjorn Sturmberg, the Senior Research Leader at the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at the ANU, has worked towards energy equity – he implemented Australia’s first solar and storage microgrid for an apartment building, and he led a startup that makes solar work for rental properties.

But Sturmberg now believes trying to address energy equity in our privatised energy market is flawed, and we need to expand our imaginations so we can have energy equity for everyone.

He’s proposing a basic energy scheme where every household is provided with free electricity to cover essential, non-discretionary uses of electricity – cooking, heating and cooling – and excess consumption is paid for through existing market mechanisms.

Bjorn Sturmberg's article about energy equity, Watt equity? Why pursuing equal access to energy technologies and markets won’t deliver energy equity and what alternatives would, can be found here. And his book for children, Amy's Balancing Act, an inspiring tale about clean energy and the power of diversity, can be found here.

And here's the quote he uses in the podcast by writer Ursula K. le Guin: “As great scientists have said, and as all children know, it is above all, by the imagination, that we achieve perception and compassion, and hope."

Reclaim Energy is a proud sponsor of the SwitchedOn Australia Podcast.
Author
Anne Delaney
SwitchedOn Editor
June 4, 2024
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