South Australia Looks to 100% Renewable Energy, While Country Goes Back to Zero

While Australia’s new Prime Minister works steadily on dismantling the country’s renewable energy target and climate tax as promised – South Australia is moving toward 100% renewable energy.

The state is targeting 33% renewable energy by 2020, and it could leap to 100% by 2030.

"Imagine that – around 3,000 megawatts (MW) of wind generation, rooftop solar on two out of every three homes, widespread battery storage, at least one large-scale solar tower and storage plant (in Port Augusta), and some other utility-scale and community solar farms. And maybe even a little geothermal and ocean energy, as well as some community biomass plants," gasps Giles Parkinson, in RenewEconomy.

South Australia already gets 31% of its electricity from renewables, he says – 27% from 1200 MW of wind and 4% from rooftop solar. An almost-finished 270 MW wind farm combined with expected growth in solar will bring the total renewables provide to 40% by 2020.

Read how he sees the state reaching 100% renewables.

Australia PM Pursues Backward Push Nationally

That’s the good news. The bad news is that nationally, Australia is moving the opposite direction, and this year the country took over leadership of the G20. Immediately, climate change was off the agenda.

And the conservative Prime Ministers in Australia and Canada say they will work together to block a global climate treaty next year. 

Australia PM Abbott 

After failing to repeal the country’s carbon tax earlier this year (because of a Labor/Green Party majority), Tony Abbott has reintroduced legislation – expected to pass this time as more conservatives enter office in July. He says the measure will cut household electric bills by AU$200 a year and natural gas bills by AU$70 a year.

Instead, he plans to substitute his "Direct Action Initiative, which appropriates a tiny AU$2.55 billion to reward companies that move to cleaner energy sources.
As for the renewable energy target of 14.2 GW by 2020 – that could be eliminated by next year.

Cleantech Investors Look Elsewhere

Not surprisingly, Australia’s renewable energy industry is looking pretty dismal and cleantech investors are looking elsewhere for low-carbon opportunities, reports Giles Parkinson in RenewEconomy.

Parkinson reports on what key investors said at a Senate hearing:

"My members are looking at the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, France and some South American countries as having more stable investment environments for low-carbon opportunities," said Nathan Fabian, head of the Investor Group on Climate Change.

"Australia is missing out on hundreds of billions of dollars that being invested every year in renewables, in energy efficiency and in development of these new technologies, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs being created in China, in Germany and in America," said Tim Buckley, a former Citigroup chief analyst in Australia, now with the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

They call Abbott’s Direct Action initiative – his substitute for Australia’s world-leading policies – a "short-term political manoeuvre that’s delivering power to the conservative parties." It’s not a long-term policy that creates certainty and support for a low-carbon transition.

"Cutting or reducing the Renewable Energy Target is likely to result in less competition among fossil-fuel power generators and strong future increases in the price of electricity," says Kobad Bhavnagri, who heads Bloomberg New Energy Finance/ Australia. "This helps to explain why many of Australia’s largest power
companies are pushing for a reduction in the target." The target is expected to generated AUD35 billion in investment over the next six years and cut the nation’s emissions 5%. 

Adding to the disenfranchisement is a new law passed in the state of Victoria – the Summary Offences Act – which gives police expanded authority to disperse protests and put people in prison who don’t comply.

Watch this hilarious video on how coal companies plan to address climate change: 


Read our article, Australia Turns Back the Clock on Historic Carbon Tax, Cap-and-Trade.

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