You have to give it to the advocacy organization Beyond Zero Emissions. They are not being set back by the failure of the Australian government to pass even a 5 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020. A new report they commissioned in conjunction with two universities, Melbourne University and Australian National University, claims the country, which is blessed with both abundant solar and wind resources, could go entirely carbon-neutral in just 10 years.

According to Executive Director Matthew Wright, "We have concluded that there are no technological impediments to transforming Australia’s stationary energy sector to zero emissions over the next 10 years."

According to the plan, 60 percent of the nation's power could come from CSP (concentrating solar thermal) and 40 percent from wind. The group sees no need for nuclear power in the mix, which after all still demands a continued supply of a dwindling resource — uranium. The solar and wind would complement each other and combined with molten salt storage and combustion of renewable biomass, they could create an even flow of electricity to the nation's 21 million residents.

It sounds like a pipe dream and as much as I love it, I have to agree it is ... quite literally. The super-grid transmission "pipes" that would enable such a noble and utopian vision are still in R & D and though theoretically possible would be probably be prohibitively expensive, significantly more than the $360 billion proposed in the report.

But this is just the kind of practical dreaming we need to do. If the big coal and gas companies redirected their efforts and their lobbying money, such a vision could in fact become a reality.

Australia carbon neutral by 2020?
New report from Beyond Zero Emissions says Australia could permanently pull the plug on fossil fuels in 10 years.