S.A. Labor shoots for 75% renewables, 25% storage target

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South Australia Labor government says it will lift 2025 renewable energy target to 75% if re-elected at next month’s poll, the most ambitious target for any major grid in the world.

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Premier Jay Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis announcing their electricity plan. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily
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South Australia’s Labor government has doubled down on its commitment to renewable energy, promising to increase the share of renewables to 75 per cent by 2025 if re-elected at next month’s state poll, and announcing plans to install 750MW of “renewable storage” to go with it.

The decision to lift the 2025 target to 75 per cent (it is currently 50 per cent but that level has already been reached) represents by far the most ambitious target by a major grid anywhere in the world.

But it also reflects the extraordinary investment spree that is already taking place in South Australia, with many new large scale wind and solar farms under construction, and several key storage projects, which Labor is now looking to expand with its Australia-first  25 per cent renewable storage target.

“Renewable energy means cheaper power for all South Australians,” said Premier Jay Weatherill.

“Our projects with Tesla’s Elon Musk have generated global headlines. The world is now looking to South Australia, and we’re sending yet another signal to renewable energy leaders that their investment is welcome in our state.”

The move may also be designed to turn the upcoming poll into a de-facto referendum on renewable energy, which is popular with voters – more so than Labor itself.

The Opposition Liberal Party has vowed to scrap the state’s renewable energy target, even though the target stands in name only because there is actually no state-based mechanism, unlike Victoria. But the intent is there.

Weatherill’s vision attracted the predictable mixture of bouquets and brickbats, the latter notably from the Coalition, led by energy minister Josh Frydenberg, who just happened to be in Adelaide. See our story, Frydenberg fumes as Weatherill does the vision thing on renewables and storage.

But the clean energy industry’s response was probably best summed up by Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief analyst Kobad Bhavnagri, who tweeted:

South Australia says it already generates 48.9 per cent of its energy production from renewable energy, although some estimates put the level at slightly above 50 per cent.

This will be boosted with the 220MW Bungala solar farm, the 117MW Tailem Bend solar farm, and the 212MW Lincoln Gap wind farm – all under construction. And there is another 2GW of wind and solar proposed, including by the new owners of the Whyalla steelworks, as well as DP Energy, and others.

“A re-elected Labor Government will increase South Australia’s Renewable Energy Target to 75 per cent by 2025, accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy to deliver cheaper power for all South Australians,” it said in a statement.

“South Australia is leading the world in renewable energy technologies, with the world’s biggest battery at Jamestown, the world’s biggest solar thermal plant at Port Augusta and the world’s biggest Virtual Power Plant,” Weatherill added.

Labor’s new commitment – to renewables and a storage target – also indicates it will give short shrift to the federal government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee, which seeks to impose an emissions and a reliability obligation on to electricity retailers.

The NEG has been criticised because it will not increase emissions reductions targets, at least under the current government, could reinforce the power of incumbent retailers, and could stifle new investment in renewables.. Its details remain vague, but are likely to be highly complex.

Weatherill used the announcement to contrast his position with that of both Opposition Leader Steven Marshall, who wants to scrap any state-based initiatives and whose rhetoric is anti-renewable, and former Senator Nick Xenophon, the leader of SA Best.

The new party, which appears to be matching both Labor and the Coalition in a three-way contest, has yet to release his energy policy. Weatherill focused on Xenophon’s past criticism of wind turbines, particularly his claim that wind turbines could give people “brain damage”.

In an accompanying statement Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis focused on the increased competition that would come from more renewable energy generation, more batteries and more pumped hydro.

“The Liberal’s privatisation of our electricity assets was the worst policy decision in South Australia’s history,” he said.

“We now have a situation where powerful companies make huge profits from the limited competition in the system, to extract massive profits out of customers for their shareholders.”

Local environment groups had urged Labor to go the whole hog and aim for 100 per cent renewables by 2025, but they seemed satisfied by Weatherill’s announcement.

“Building more solar, wind and storage is the cleanest and lowest cost way to power South Australian homes and businesses,” said Dan Spencer, from Solar Citizens.

“It’s fantastic that Premier Weatherill has committed to increasing our state renewable target and funding Australia’s first renewable storage target.”

See also our story: S.A. Labor commits to 750MW “renewable storage” target

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40 Comments
  1. Steve159 7 months ago

    For those who are well informed, in regards to the enormous potential of renewable energy (e.g. exporting excess renewable power OS in various forms, and that it is a job-creation powerhouse, and that renewables will lower electricity prices) it’s almost inconceivable that Weatherill’s leadership could be in question.

    But then, I haven’t been reading the Murdoch press. I guess many South Australians must be if Labor is neck-and-neck with Xenophon and the LNP.

    • MaxG 7 months ago

      Yes, this is the real issue… people on this forum have to realise they are a MINORITY. — Face it, there is more activity on the Ford Ute forum than RenewEconomy. :))

      • Joe 7 months ago

        …is that Ute…an EV?

      • Daniel Donatelli 7 months ago

        Max your on the titanic , saying we have to speed up to show how great the ship it , please wake up Renewable are urgent need

        • MaxG 7 months ago

          Sorry, must be a misunderstanding. I did not say any of this. And am all for renewables; which I am using myself, etc.

      • onesecond 7 months ago

        Actually that is not true, most people do get the benefits of renewables and that they are the future. It is just that the Murdoch press makes the actual majority feel like the minority because the Murdoch press screams so loud, using fear and misinformation to divide the public and the crucial votes.

    • Joe 7 months ago

      Surely there is a law about false representation. I mean Nitwit Xylophone and with his party name SA Best…best at what exactly? Hasn’t announced any decent policy. But we know where he stands on Wind Energy…the dude that gave us ‘The Wind Commissioner’ – who is still looking for victims ( brain damaged ) of wind turbines. We now know where he stands on the pokies…SA is Best with the pokies afterall. The dude has no shame and should retire.

      • John Saint-Smith 7 months ago

        What offends me most about Mr Zerophon is the fact that he won’t announce which party he would support in the ‘unlikely’ event that he isn’t able to form a government in his own image. How arrogant can you get – ‘Vote for me and I’ll use your vote any way I like! Trust me I’m a politician.’

        • Buffalo Hopscotch 7 months ago

          His entire shtick now is to sit on the fence and then side with whoever gives him the best deal. His whole thing originally was run on a “no pokies” thing, but he doesn’t even stand for that anymore. He now looks out for just himself and he’ll make any deal he can to further his career.

        • Ian 7 months ago

          He has ads stating that “Jay has to go”. I think that is pretty clear.

        • Steven Gannon 7 months ago

          Mr X is keeping his powder dry. He’s in the box seat. If Labor don’t get a majority, he will then be in a negotiating position to form a coalition with whom he chooses, even if he comes third. Complicated.

    • Frank Speaking 7 months ago

      Understand why Murdoch is so effective, in the US with Fox and Aust with his rags.
      Some pretty advanced Psych science involved and the manipulated do not realise they are being made fools of as they line up for more

      https://climatecrocks.com/2018/02/20/how-fox-news-works-spoiler-its-a-drug/

      Clearly internal biochemistry and neurotransmitters can be hacked, —
      it’s what advertisers, flimflammers and religions have done for
      millennia. But what we are seeing now, supported by networked
      technology – is next level.

      • Pete 7 months ago

        This line “…the manipulated do not realise they are being made fools of…” sums it up perfectly. Advertisers just love those people who say “I’m not influenced by advertising.” because they are the ones MOST influenced.

        • John Mills 7 months ago

          Look what Murdoch did to Julia Gillard with all his newspaper and radio outlets in Australia. Mind you he gave Kevin Rudd a helping hand. But this time definitely against Weatherill.

      • Steven Gannon 7 months ago

        I’ve heard it said that societies are a reflection of their popular media, it rings true in Australia in recent years.

        I think it will get worse with algorithms like Brittania Analytica raising the bar on target constituents etc. ., and the fact they just see elections as advertising campaigns.

    • John Mills 7 months ago

      Yes, The Advertiser is still bashing Weatherill around the ears over his renewable energy efforts.
      Still blaming renewables on the 2016 September blackouts.

      • Joe 7 months ago

        …and of course RE was the cause of this years blackouts in Victoria and SE QLD.

    • Daniel Donatelli 7 months ago

      South Australia is Now Acquiring Business and making People wake up and be competitive. All Clients All of them will always choose the Green Option.

  2. Patrick Comerford 7 months ago

    I trust that the voters of SA will reject the LNP and the Xenophon party and are as smart as their Queensland counterparts who didn’t fall for the Queensland LNP state opposition who were going to fund a new coal fired power station with public money FFS!

  3. Chris Marshalk 7 months ago

    This is what REAL Leadership looks like & not the monkeys in Canberra called the LNP. All that Turdballs could come up with was Snowy Hydro 2.0.

    SA will set an example RE is successful and can be done. Go Jay & Team.

  4. Rob 7 months ago

    I wish I lived in South Australia so I could vote for Jay Weatherill and Tom Koutsantonis at the coming election. Go Jay, go Tom!

  5. Miles Harding 7 months ago

    Go Jay!

    I find it astounding that the Liberals can get away with policies that are so opposed to the public interest. It speaks very poorly of the nations voters who continue to elect governments that play them as fools.
    Still, it’s not as bad as the USA where ignorant moron moron voters elect Koch’s Tea Party canidates.

    Modeling in WA suggests that the minumum cost point there is in the region of 90% renewables. I would not be surprised if SA’s minimum cost point is greater than 100% when the NEM and victorian peak demands are considered.

  6. john 7 months ago

    Undoubtedly another Federal Minister will be making statements about how terrible this idea of using RE is with the usual FUD fully backed by the Murdoch press.
    The election material must be interesting I wonder how much truth is written?

    • Joe 7 months ago

      ….I can hear the that worn out slogan coming again from Two Tongues Turnbull and his hand puppet Joshie…”Left Wing Ideology and Idiocy”

  7. Alan S 7 months ago

    Bernardi and Frydenberg were still going on about the SA govt’s two standby diesel turbines on ABC Adelaide radio this morning, mainly complaining about the amount of ‘dirty diesel’ used. Tom K then rang in to say the generators didn’t run during the heatwave and they both immediately changed topic to the hire cost. It’s funny watching conservatives squirm, trip and frantically try to find their feet.

  8. George Darroch 7 months ago

    NZ has gone as *low* as the high 70s for renewables in the last few decades, but that’s with hydro as their base.

    This announcement is impressive, no matter which way you slice it.

  9. Ian Franklin 7 months ago

    Josh, who has been in Adelaide to spruik the LNP’s support for pumped hydro (ignoring SA’s own role) has already come out of the wings repeating the canard that SA has the most expensive and unreliable power, ignoring both the facts and the trends. And, of course, he blames the SA government for rushing into renewable energy without ensuring adequate backup and storage. SA has always had adequate backup in gas generation, but it has sometimes been held back so that the owners could game the market (remember Enron?). One of the things that has puzzled me for some time is why the businesses, who the like households have suffered from high prices, continue to blame the government from the activities of other businesses, whose rational is also to make a profit. The recent efforts of the labor government to purchase generation and backup is directed at reducing the power of the gentailers to savage the state’s businesses and households.

    • John Mills 7 months ago

      I put the AEMO half hourly records for January onto my own spreadsheet and found just how badly “the activities of other businesses, whose rational is also to make a profit.”.

      The total wholesale cost of power to SA, in January 2018, was $464,726,515 – $464M. Of that, more than half, $262M was for the 21 half hour periods (out of 1488 periods) where the cost was above $300/MWhr.

      So just 3% of the total power cost us 52% of the total amount! Ridiculous!

      I did the calculations to see what happens if the AGLs and the others were restricted, by law, to charging a maximum of $300/MWhr, rather than the $7000, and $14000 rip-offs amongst those 21 half hour periods.

      The result is a total bill of only $221M. Less than half.

      BUt JOsh is quite correct. The answer to reducing these profit driven rip-offs is more storage. More renewables, and more storage.

      The three eastern states already have their storage – millions of tonnes of coal just sitting there, waiting to be burned.

      When our wind blows and we have excess power to export across the border, they
      just tell us to sell it cheaply to them. Or they will say, keep your cheap power, we will just throw more coal under our turbines.

      They have us ‘over a barrel’. With wind we have to ‘use it or lose it’. Only one storage farm at the moment, at Jamestown.

      But I am so excited about the future when we have all those new wind farms with their storage too, and the thermal storage at Port Augusta, and the various hydro storage schemes.

      Then we will have some bargaining power, and AGL will not be able to charge us those huge profit making amounts!

      Roll on 2020!

      • Ian Franklin 7 months ago

        Thanks

      • Ray Miller 7 months ago

        John interesting analysis, noting the massive costs over very small time periods. The majority of users then get the $464M averaged as though they ALL used equal shares of the expensive energy and get slugged. The problem with this economic theory is that this removes the opportunity to do something about it. It’s very much like adding all traffic offenses to everyone’s rego instead of the offenders, this will never happen so why does it happen for energy?

  10. Joe 7 months ago

    Another week and another momentous announcement from…The Leader of The Nation.

  11. ben 7 months ago

    What is demonstrated here is the impact which the Government can actually make when they put their mind to it. Can you imagine the Federal Government undertaking such an activist scheme?

    • john 7 months ago

      The answer for some while has been a 2 letter answer beginning with”N “.
      Pitiful stance for the last to parliaments.

  12. Trevor Toomer 7 months ago

    SA has gone from very little to 50% RE in the last 10 years. To reach 75% in the next 7 years is just an extrapolation of present trends. Congratulations to Jay for seeing it. The potential is to go from the state with the highest electricity prices to the lowest, so long as we don’t let the fools throw a spanner in the works.

  13. Peter F 7 months ago

    While this may sound like great progress it is a bit like the original 50% target that Tristan Edis and others bagged as government claiming credit for something was going to happen anyway.
    In SA there are 3 wind farms in progress now, with a total of about 400 MW capacity. As these are high output systems they will produce around 1,400 GWh per year. With DP Energy, Pacific Hydro and Acciona projects, as well as many others, awaiting final approval, it is quite conceivable that a total 800-900 MW-3,000 GWh per year of new wind generation could be delivered by 2021. That is more than 20% of SA’s current demand. The 400 MW of large scale solar already under construction is another 6-7% not including all the rooftop solar projects that are going ahead.

    Perhaps Jay is again deliberately understating the target again but 90% is in fact the probable outcome unless an incoming government deliberately does a Bailleau or Abbott

    • BushAxe 7 months ago

      Agree, it’s a soft target which will be met by 2020 once the Aurora project is finished. However RE will go further as industry is positioning SA to become a significant exporter.

  14. Steven Gannon 7 months ago

    The Guardian reported today that Weatherill has stated that the election will be a referendum on renewables. He’s all in.

  15. neroden 7 months ago

    Gah, I wish the election wasn’t so close! Weatherill is the real deal, a true visionary, and his opponents are… stupid.

  16. joono 7 months ago

    Should be 250% target

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