This year, majority of us have been forced to slow down. Our lifestyles are changing and we are all spending way more time at home. This has also created important space for the Black Lives Matter movement to highlight the systemic racism that exists today. With so much change and yet more down time than ever, we have a big opportunity. An opportunity to reshape many of the structures that do not serve the majority of people and planet. As part of slowing down, we can examine a few areas of our life that can have a big impact. One of these is our energy usage.

I am excited to post a guest blog by Zachary de Silva, a local and passionate advocate for social change. He reached out to me to discuss how we could share his thoughts on Planet B Insights. I hope you enjoy the post and if you would like to contribute, please get in touch! We want to build a diverse set of writers who can share insights from a variety of perspectives.

Guest Blog by Zachary de Silva

They say diamonds are born in the rough.

In times of uncertainty, this phrase couldn’t be more accurate with the story of Anne Frank, a perfect example of hope during WW2. The human cost of the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to take its toll.

We can use this downtime to decipher how to improve our world.

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As scientists frantically work to find treatments and improve global public health, initiatives like Planet B Insights offer global perspectives that can improve our world. One in particular is improving the economy by advocating a more sustainable approach such as doughnut economics.

More pertinent, with our economy suffering, can we also find new methods to reduce our burden on the environment? 

During the current global pandemic we are all housebound for an extended period of time.

This may be a time to pause and reflect about some changes we can make to better our lifestyles. Our electricity, gas and water consumption may have even increased with the added onset of winter further burdening living costs. We have an opportunity to understand our electricity bills and look for sustainable ways to lessen our impact on the environment and save some money while we do it!

Energy’s Sustainable Opportunity

Perhaps now that we have the time to make changes, we can propel the economy into one that flows on infinite renewable energy. Since 24% of Australia’s electricity generation is renewable, simply altering our choice of power companies is a good start. 

According to research by Leading Edge Energy, Australians pay the highest prices for electricity in the entire world! 

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Source: Leading Edge Energy

The Irony of Australia’s Energy System

The fact that Australians pay some of the highest energy bills in the world is an alarming statistic. Australia is known for its abundance of solar, wind, tidal (think about the size of our coastline) and even geothermal (heat mining in our vast deserts) – all of which are constantly renewed; thus, these forms of energy are really limitless, and we could potentially have an excess supply with lower prices. 

Given it’s infinite renewable energy sources, why hasn’t Australia switched to powering all our homes and businesses to renewables?

This is a complex process that requires social, commercial and political will. In comparison, nations such as Iceland lead the way, powering almost all (85%) of their entire energy from renewable sources and there are even talks of building cables to export power to the United Kingdom.

Making a Renewable Switch

Reducing energy usage and switching to solar is one of the top 5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Travel, everyday transport, plant based diets and having less children are are a few of the others. According to the Climate Council, the average Australian home is responsible for a massive 7 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Considering our extra usage of electricity during lockdown, it is a good opportunity to look at some of the benefits.

In the short and long term, Australians can benefit from switching their power companies, to help drive the transition to a more sustainable future which will decrease prices.

Companies such as Powershop, Diamond Energy and Amber Electric offer greener alternatives to the major retailers and provide great value for those who wish to make the change away from propping up polluting energy companies. This and the satisfaction knowing that your electricity bill contributes towards a cleaner economy, not one that causes destruction through fossil fuel combustion. 

Amber Electric

Amber Electric is an exciting new development in the energy sector. They are building a smart energy revolution that’s both cheaper and greener.

According to their website, All energy retailers buy their electricity from the wholesale electricity market, where prices are set every 30 minutes by the government’s Australian Energy Market Operator. With Amber you get direct access to these same wholesale prices. It’s a cheaper way to buy power. And if you have solar to export, we’ll pay you the real-time wholesale price for it too.

Read more about Amber Electric here. These emerging businesses are bringing new options which makes switching to sustainable energy cheaper!

Sustainable Banking

Another aspect to this is our financial institutions which play a significant role in the funding of fossil fuel energy companies nationally. MarketForces is an excellent resource to determine what and where your bank lends money. Switching your bank accounts is another easy switch that has a positive impact on the environment.

Bank Australia in particular leads the way in not financing fossil fuel companies. In fact, just by being a customer you participate in reforestation projects!

Now Is The Time

Unfortunately most electricity we use comes from nonrenewable sources such as coal which increases C02 emissions. Perhaps now is the ideal time to consider our electricity usage and environmental impact. Since we have the extra time being isolated, we can research and make more ethical choices for our homes and businesses.

As citizens we have more power than we think! By choosing to change to a renewable power company you can help accelerate Australia’s energy future leading to new jobs. The environment and you bank balance will thank you for it!

Zachary de Silva

A social scientist in training, I am an avid reader of topics including sustainability, economics,  philosophy and history. My passion for sustainability is constantly renewed from following scholarly sources, documentaries and related books. Much of the knowledge I’ve accumulated over time has come from serendipity. I believe in Australia’s potential to be a leader in renewable energy. By working together with Planet B Insights, sharing my unique insight, I hope it will inspire everyone to make conscious decisions and incorporate environmentally friendly practices into their lifestyle that benefit the public more broadly.

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