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Time for Victoria to adapt, says Climate Commission

Urges state to bite the bullet on solar

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Climate change is already affecting rainfall in the Australian state of Victoria, according to Australia's Climate Commission which is therefore advocating a range of mitigation and adaptation measures. Among the suggestions contained in the Climate Commission's report, Victorian climate impacts and opportunities is the suggestion that the state could already supply all of its energy needs with solar energy.

The report states that the land available for solar power in Victoria already receives more than double the total energy consumption in the state for the year 2009-2010. Energy consumption in the state has fallen since then, matching a trend also seen in NSW where the combination of power efficiency measures and a rooftop 'solar boom' have cut the demands on electricity wholesalers.

The report estimated that the state receives around 2,500 petajoules of usable solar energy each year, highlighting the state's north-west as a region offering strong opportunities for solar development. Australia is in the fortunate position where, by some measures, the cost of solar power is already at parity with traditional generation techniques.

It also notes that Victoria has “some of the best conditions in the world to harness wind energy” (if, El Reg notes, you ignore the rise of the growing belief that all those wind farms are somehow causing chronic illnesses all the way up to cancer and HIV).

Discussing the report in The Conversation, commissioner Tim Flannery points out that there is evidence for previous swings in Victoria's climate – highlighting the presence, for example, of alpine species such as snow gums that are left behind in Melbourne from the last big shift in climate.

Changes already apparent in the Victorian climate include a rise in the number of days with temperature above 35°C, from 10 per year to 13 (small in absolute terms, but a 30 percent change) in the last century, and a possible 40 percent rise in “very high to extreme” bushfire danger days.

While sea-level rise is something of the “poster child” for climate change stories, the impact of heatwaves on infrastructure needs attention, the report notes, with one-third of Melbourne’s rail services cancelled over a three-day heatwave in 2009 when temperatures were higher than 43°C for three days, and power outages were experienced as far afield as Tasmania (which gets 6 percent of its electricity from the Basslink underwater cable). ®

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