Dick Smith slams ACT renewable energy target in Scott Morrison skit

Dick Smith has slammed the ACT's renewable energy target as a "lie" in a new video in which he impersonates Prime Minister Scott Morrison - complete with his own lump of coal - and declares no energy will ever be as cheap as fossil fuels.

The ACT government reports it is on track to become 100 per cent renewable by 2020 but, speaking to The Canberra Times on Tuesday, Mr Smith accused the territory of deliberately hoodwinking the public into believing all their power would soon be coming from solar and wind.

A video released on Tuesday in which Dick Smith (pictured) holds a lump of coal and impersonates Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Dick Smith

A video released on Tuesday in which Dick Smith (pictured) holds a lump of coal and impersonates Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Dick Smith

Given the ACT has no plans for large-scale battery storage, it will continue to rely on the national grid, which is still largely powered by fossil fuels, he said.

"It's just completely dishonest, for a government to be part of a lie like that, it's tokenism," the millionaire businessman said.

But the ACT government hit back at the claims as a misunderstanding of the electricity market, saying the territory was too small a jurisdiction to invest in a large-scale battery project such as that of South Australia.

Instead, it was building new solar and wind farms both in the territory and across Australia to account for all the electricity used in the ACT and had begun one of the largest roll-outs of residential renewable batteries in the world, promising to deliver 5000 to Canberra households and businesses by 2020.

In the national electricity market, the ACT's own solar and wind farms do not provide power directly to ACT households but contribute to a pool of electricity that is spread across the NSW region and Australia more broadly.

ACT Minister for Climate Change Shane Rattenbury said it was common sense to place renewable stations where there was wind and sun.

"[The market] is like depositing $100 in the bank and then withdrawing $100 from an ATM, you don't receive the same note you deposited, but you still have $100," he said.

Mr Rattenbury stressed that taking action on climate change by investing in more renewable energy would help bring down power prices, a position backed by Australia's Chief Scientist Alan Finkel and a number of recent economic reports.

"[The ACT] has some of the lowest electricity prices in the country," Mr Rattenbury said.

But Mr Smith, who describes himself as a renewables enthusiast and drives an electric car, says the true cost of the energy has not been properly costed.

"Once you factor in the price of the battery storage, it becomes totally unaffordable, 10 times as much," he said.

"I'm worried for my grandkids, all these idealists are just saying the price will come down, they'll invent something, but it's only the Kerry Packers and the Dick Smiths who can afford it."

The businessman said if a case could be made for affordable renewables, he'd be willing to offer the ACT government some land close to Canberra on his large block at Gundaroo.

"But they won't do that because it's about cost not space," he said.

The chief scientist has previously found renewables could contribute at least half of all power to the national grid without the need for significant storage, but has called for proper investment in battery technology to help transition the market.

Asked about Mr Smith's concerns, Dr Finkel said all modelling required assumptions to be made and any shift to renewables would be long-term.

While Mr Smith said he was not necessarily advocating for fossil fuels, he maintained both nuclear power and renewables would price families out of electricity.

"Maybe we could dramatically reduce the use of power, where unless you're old or sick you'll have your air con turned off," he said.

Mr Rattenbury encouraged the businessman to use his profile and experience to advocate instead for a transition to renewable energy.

As of June 30, 46 per cent of the ACT's electricity was from renewable sources and by the end of the year that number is expected to reach 85 per cent, a government spokeswoman said. The territory also expects to achieve zero net emissions by 2045 at the latest.

Mr Smith has launched a number of controversial videos in recent years, including a revival of the iconic '80s 'Grim Reaper' AIDS campaign which called on the government to more than halve immigration numbers.