South Australia primed for renewable energy future

AGL's Hallett Wind Farms
AGL's Hallett Wind Farms

The rise and rise of renewable energy in South Australia continues, and with a little strategic planning the state will eventually be able to power itself using clean energy and then sell the rest to other states, according to the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

The CEC has produced a briefing paper and written to all national Energy Ministers outlining a plan for a future energy system that is both low carbon and low cost. Key points include:

  • Assessing options to strengthen and increase the interconnection of the NEM, potentially through innovative investment models.
  • Leveraging the opportunity and role of battery storage – at residential and business scale as well as distributed at scale throughout the network and in electric vehicles.
  • Driving innovation in the way renewable energy generation interacts and supports the electricity network. There are numerous ways in which new renewable energy and storage technologies can provide services that the power system needs.
  • Refining the role of key energy market bodies in securing market-balancing infrastructure as a social good.
  • Re-purposing retiring fossil fuel generators to provide market-balancing services, while avoiding their ongoing consumption of fossil fuels.

“In 2003, South Australia had no renewable energy installed at all. Last year, more than 40 per cent of its electricity came from solar and wind power,” the CEC said.

“And South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has made it clear the government plans to go much further. Over the long-term he wants the state to export its surplus renewable energy to other states.

“In the short- and medium-term this presents no problems. South Australia’s two coal-fired power plants are closing down this year, but the Australian Energy Market Operator says this will not affect the state’s ability to meet its reliability standards – meaning the state’s energy needs will be met at least 99.98 per cent of the time.

“However, careful strategic planning is required to ensure the future electricity network is designed with more renewable energy in mind.”

The CEC said there seems little doubt with storage technology becoming more sophisticated and affordable, the future of energy will be more distributed and smarter than it is right now.

The full briefing paper is available from the Clean Energy Council website.