From energy poverty to energy sovereignty: remote renewables
Over a fifth of First Australians live in remote communities. Census data shows they endure unemployment levels almost five times higher and incomes around half of those of people who live in our big cities. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the cost of living in remote Indigenous communities can be up to 50% higher. Something as simple as an iceberg lettuce can cost over $10 in some remote community stores. Fuel can cost well over $3 per litre. These statistics alone are a reason for remote Indigenous communities to go 100% renewable as soon as possible. Renewable energy is a cheaper and more reliable source of electricity. It reduces energy poverty and builds energy sovereignty.
There are also major climate action benefits associated with ditching the diesel generators which are usually the primary sources of energy in remote communities. Diesel generators are notorious for their high levels of CO2, carcinogens, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide pollution. They're also noisy and destroy the ambience of the bush. Renewable energy eliminates these externalities while creating jobs and training opportunities. Installing and maintaining solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and microgrids - for example - can contribute to higher skilled and more sustainable and resilient local economies.
It's time to act and support First Nations in remote communities. The global and national challenge of addressing climate change can be turned into an opportunity for them. Renewable energy can reduce energy poverty, improve electricity access, reduce carbon and toxic pollution, create new economic opportunities, and improve the quality of life for remote communities. Let's get on with it.
Kiwirrkurra in the stunning Gibson Desert is nine hours drive from Alice Springs.