Renewable Energy: Urban Centres Lead the Dance in Australia?

Chapter
Part of the Lecture Notes in Energy book series (LNEN, volume 23)

Abstract

Australia provides great potential as a case study for renewable energy governance. It is a large continent with a comparatively small and highly urbanised population. It possesses enormous mineral wealth and is a major exporter of fossil fuels, but it also has huge potential for the exploitation of renewable energy. Politically, it is a country divided between those who support large-scale exploitation of fossil fuels and those who advocate that the nation should grasp the opportunity of its rich renewable resources to become a world leader in this field. The potential for renewable energy development has been recognised in some areas, with large-scale wind energy development in particular. But the great distances between energy sources and users suggest that the urban centres themselves should be examined as sources of renewable energy. Governance is complex, with three levels, Federal, State and Local, each exercising power and capable of influencing energy concerns. The key question which is addressed in this chapter is, in a regime with multiple layers of government, at what level is renewable energy development best promoted? We address the politics of energy in the context of Australia’s economy and governance arrangements. Drawing data from previous research carried out by the authors, we examine the potential of urban areas to generate and supply their own power from renewable energy. Using Hammer’s (2009) capacity to act theory we examine the capacity of local government to develop urban renewable energy. We seek to identify hesitations towards RE adoption in all levels. A critical question concerns whether bottom-up or top-down action is preferable.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Natural and Built EnvironmentsUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

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