South Australian carbon limit for new coal-fired electricity production

South Australia is looking to set a carbon emissions limit for new electricity production that would be the toughest in Australia and would effectively prevent the future construction of new coal-fired power plants in the state.

South Australia Premier, Mike Rann said he would initiate consultations with industry and interest groups this year about setting a maximum carbon content for electricity generated from any new plant in the state.

“The starting point for that consultation will be a limit of 0.7 tonnes of CO2 for each megawatt hour of electricity sent out from new generating plant,” Premier Rann said.

“The limit will be introduced as a transitional measure pending the introduction of a national carbon policy.”

Consultations on the new limit will commence early in 2011 before a bill is introduced into the Parliament to apply that limit.

“The Commonwealth Government has initiated a consultation process on its policy to require all new power stations to meet best practice emissions standards,” Mr Rann said.

“I support that approach as it offers an effective mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the stationary energy sector on a national basis.

“South Australia’s circumstances are different from those that apply nationally. At present, 34 per cent of South Australia’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power, less than half the national average. Gas accounts for almost half of our electricity generation, while 18 per cent of our electricity comes from wind power generation,” he said.

Mr Rann said by 2020, 33 per cent of their power will come from renewable energy. South Australia is host to half of Australia’s wind power and in November 2010 the state passed through the threshold of 1000 MW of installed wind energy capacity.

“This outcome has been driven by South Australia aggressively capitalising on the Commonwealth Government’s expanded 20 per cent by 2020 Renewable Energy Target. The Commonwealth Government’s concerted action to deliver a high level of renewable energy for Australia has created the opportunity for South Australia to draw investors to exploit the state’s outstanding wind resource,” Mr Rann said.