South Australia is set to pass its 50 per cent renewable energy target next year due to solar and wind, exceeding targets by nearly a decade. The state is now setting a path towards 100 per cent renewable energy.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said during “Compact of States and Regions” talks on Monday, his state was leading the world in the incorporation of variable renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, and hoped the knowledge gained would create a massive economic opportunity for a state struggling with the decline of long-term industries such as car manufacturing.
Weatherill said “we will soon have 50 per cent renewable energy” and added “We need technology breakthroughs for large-scale storage, such as pumped hydro or batteries, but these are massive technological challenges that are exciting opportunities for the state.”
South Australia finds itself at the cutting edge of the transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to one dominated by renewable energy such as solar, wind and storage. Its last coal-fired power generator is due to close in March next year.
The Australian Energy Market Operator has forecast that all of the state’s daytime demand may on occasions be met by rooftop solar alone within the next decade.
The renewable energy target is likely to be closely scrutinised by the huge number of detractors, both by fossil fuel interests, the nuclear lobby and many in mainstream media, with even a recent outage caused by equipment failures blamed on the state’s reliance on wind energy.
Weatherill conceded that the state was taking risks, but indicated it had no real choice given the demise of traditional industries such as car manufacturing, and also given the huge opportunities in clean technology.
The South Australian Government lead by Weatherill is also supporting its capital city, Adelaide, in its push to become the first large carbon neutral city in the world – a target it hopes to achieve within a decade. Both the state government and the city council have pushed new incentives to encourage battery storage in homes and businesses. Weatherill has also called for tenders to ensure that his government’s own electricity demand is met entirely by renewable energy.
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