As Australia’s national energy policy enter a new hiatus – as the industry awaits some text to be inserted into the thought bubbles around the proposed National Energy Guarantee- some states and territories are getting on with their own plans.
The Labor government in the Northern Territory is expected next week, and possibly as early as Monday, to unveil the detail of its roadmap to a 50 per cent renewable energy target.
The government last year commissioned a special panel to put together the plan, which could result in some 400MW or more of mostly solar capacity in the territory over the next decade – not a huge sum by any means, but still significant given the potential investment droughts elsewhere.
As in other states, Labor has a diametrically opposite view to the conservative parties. Former LNP leader and chief minister Adam Giles was an ardent critic of renewables, and now works for Australia’s richest person, the mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
The Labor government in the NT is taking a similar approach as the Labor government in Queensland with its 50 per cent renewable energy target, although the Queensland plans hinge on the outcome of the state election on Saturday. The results seem impossible to predict.
Victoria’s Labor government, meanwhile, has legislated a 40 per cent renewable energy target by 2025, and is conducting a 650MW auction – the largest ever in Australia – while the ACT has already contracted with some 700MW of wind and solar to meet its 100 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.
South Australia’s Labor government has already met its 50 per cent renewable energy target, and is keen on adding more, with numerous large scale solar, wind and storage projects lining up in the state.
The Northern Territory is almost entirely reliant on gas and diesel, and has three small grids – around Darwin, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, and a host of stand alone systems and micro-grids in its many remote communities.
Alice Springs has made a major push into solar – including 12MW of rooftop solar and the 4MW Uterne solar system (the first large scale system in Australia) – and is installing a 5MW battery storage unit to help allow more solar into its small grid.
The Department of Defence is also making a major push into solar, announcing tenders for a total of 12.5MW of utility-scale solar for the RAAF base and barracks in and around Darwin.
The advisory panel was appointed by the government last December and asked to deliver a roadmap by mid year.
It was chaired by remote power system expert Alan Langworthy, and including Katherine Howard, former Australian Renewable Energy Agency chair Greg Bourne, Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie, and Lyndon Frearson, the head of solar and storage specialists Ekistica.