The closure of a coal fire power station and the announced 2018 closure of the Leigh Creek coal mine have underlined claims South Australia could be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy in 15 years.
Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Mark Diesendorf, who is also the Institute of Environmental Studies deputy director, made the call in a UNSW report that modelled scenarios using real-time weather data and hourly simulations.
“South Australia has a very real opportunity to become the first Australian state to reach 100 per cent renewable energy,” he said.
The report, commissioned by the Conservation Council of South Australia, said around 40 per cent of South Australian energy currently comes from wind and solar and more than a quarter of houses have rooftop solar.
It found to reach 80-100 per cent renewable energy in SA, it would need a more variable renewable mix, geographic dispersion of power stations assisted by one or two new transmission links and demand management assisted by smart meters and smart switches in a smart grid.
Mr Disendorft’s comments came as Alinta Energy announced the Northern and Playford B power stations in Port Augusta and Leigh Creek coal mine will be shut down by March 2018 at the latest, and possibly as soon as next year.
Alinta Energy CEO Jeff Dimery said the company had no choice but to shut the power plants down after losing $100 million in the past four years.