Australia’s Path To Renewable Energy, With Momentum Energy’s Lisa Chiba
Momentum Energy managing director Lisa Chiba says it’s no longer a matter of if Australia’s going to ditch fossil fuels, but when.
‘Coal, gas and fossil fuel generation sources, they’re losing their social license to continue,’ she tells Lucy in the latest episode of our podcast TDF Talks. She joined the team at Momentum Energy in 2022 and is passionate about the role energy companies can play in helping businesses and households participate in the transition to a clean energy future.
She answers some of the frequently asked questions on this issue in the episode, and we’ve recapped some of the biggest takeaways below!
The challenges facing our energy sector
The invisible nature of energy and the complexities of the ‘grid’ can make it an overwhelming topic to get your head around. One of the biggest challenges is balancing supply and demand. As we slowly (but surely) make the transition to all-electric homes and vehicles, and at the same time we see fossil fuel generators exit the market, this means that we need much more renewable generation in our power system.
Luckily, Australia has started building the infrastructure around renewables like solar and wind power, but as Lisa notes: ‘the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine’.
That’s why the industry is currently working out how and where to build more ‘firming’ or back-up capacity, technologies such as pumped hydro and batteries that will make sure that there’s enough supply. ‘We’re a big country, there’s a lot of land to cover to make sure everybody has access to electricity,’ she says.
Our renewable future is in our sights
‘There’s no doubt it’s a challenge,’ Lisa says. The good news is we’ve already made some great progress, as the grid is now made up of about 64.1 per cent fossil fuels, and 35.9 per cent renewables — roughly double what it was in 2017.
‘It does need to accelerate even more, but I think it’s not something that people need to panic about.’
Why Momentum are one of Australia’s ‘greenest’ energy retailers
Momentum Energy are owned by Hydro Tasmania (Australia’s largest generator of renewable energy) who opened their first hydroelectric power station in 1916, which means they’ve been generating renewable energy from water for more than a hundred years.
‘So, if you are with Momentum, you can feel good that we’re not only Australian owned and operated, but also that we are building out more renewables,’ Lisa says. This investment in renewables is one of the key reasons why Momentum currently ranks second on the 2022 Greenpeace Green Electricity Guide.
The importance of hydropower
When it comes to which renewable is best out of wind, solar, or water, Lisa says it’s not a competition — ‘we need all of them and we need as much of them all as we can get.’
Pumped hydropower could prove to be particularly important though. ‘The whole concept of a pumped hydro is that you run it when you need it,’ she adds. ‘So when there isn’t enough energy being generated by other sources, you run that power, then the water falls down to the bottom and then you pump it back up the hill, and it’s ready again for when you need it next time. So the water almost acts like a battery, and when you’re pumping it back up the hill, you’re recharging your battery. So it’s really powerful, but it’s quite different to solar and wind, which are intermittent.’
You can watch this video to see what she means in action!
What individuals can do to make a difference
Lisa says customers hold a lot of buying power that can influence the supply and demand of renewable energy over fossil fuels.
‘Think about where is your money going to and what’s it being used for? So question your retailer, your energy company, what are they investing in? What types of transition plans do they have in place for net zero?’
Making the switch to GreenPower, installing solar panels, or simply being more conscious about how much energy you’re using (and when you’re using it) can also help add up.
Listen to the full podcast interview with Lisa Chiba on TDF Talks via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
Momentum Energy is owned by Australia’s largest renewable energy generator and offers accredited GreenPower. Sign up to one of Australia’s greenest power companies.