Farmer fury in Australia signals tough road to renewable energy

(Reuters, 12 Dec 2023) Hundreds of farmers are refusing to allow high-voltage overhead power lines to pass through their land, opposition that is threatening Australia's plans to increase renewable generation and reduce emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia intends to build 10,000 km (6,200 miles) of power lines by 2050 to connect wind, solar and hydro projects to the grid. Without them, fewer renewables can be brought into the power supply, and emissions targets are unlikely to be met.

A faltering energy transition would be a setback for Australia's net zero ambitions at a time when it is seeking to fix its image as a climate laggard and is pitching to host the COP climate conference in 2026.

The protests in Australia are part off a wave of pushback against solar and wind farms and grid expansions in countries like the U.S. and UK that threatens to slow the rollout of cleaner power.

Landowners - despite many of them wanting more renewables - say cables suspended on metal towers up to 80 metres (262 feet) tall will scar their land, inhibit farming and create a fire hazard in areas prone to bushfires, demanding that they be buried underground or, in some cases, abandoned.

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Reuters, 12 Dec 2023: Farmer fury in Australia signals tough road to renewable energy