South Australian energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan has set himself a goal of getting the state to its ambitious target of “net 100 per cent renewable electricity” before 2030, rather than the formal aspirational target of some time in the 2030s.
South Australia already leads Australia in growing its share of renewable electricity generation, with well over half of the state’s electricity now being produced by wind and solar energy projects.
Van Holst Pellekaan told the Stimulus Summit co-hosted by the Smart Energy Council and RenewEconomy, that the South Australian government was not easing up on its targets, and was aiming to reach net 100 per cent renewables by the end of the decade.
“We will be, as estimated by AEMO, a bit in excess of 85 per cent by 2025 and our government’s goal is to be net 100 per cent renewable energy generation by the 2030s,” van Holst Pellekaan said.
“And for me, it’s a firm goal. Personally, it’s a firm goal. I want South Australia to be net 100 per cent electricity generation renewable by 2030. That’s what I work for every day. So that’s where we’re heading.”
South Australia would join the ACT in reaching 100 per cent renewable electricity supplies, with ACT climate change minister Shane Rattenbury telling the Stimulus Summit that Canberra provided an ideal case study of the economic benefits of shifting to renewable energy.
The South Australian energy minister told the summit that the state government was looking to find solutions to the challenges presented by a transition to a grid predominantly supplied powered by renewables.
“We have a very, very significant problem in South Australia and others are not far behind with regard to net negative demand on the grid. We are blessed with renewable energy capacity generation capacity in South Australia,” van Holst Pellekaan said.
“But if we’re making more of it than we need, we will have to curtail we will have to do things like that. Now, I’m hoping we don’t we’ve got what we think is some very positive policies to avoid that sort of thing.”
One approach that the South Australian government is already exploring is increasing the ability for electricity to be shared throughout the National Electricity Market.
The South Australian energy minister identified expanded network interconnections between South Australia and other states as key to managing variability in wind and solar supplies. It is supporting a new link to NSW dubbed Project EnergyConnect.
“The greater renewable energy penetration you have, the greater impact weather will have on your supply of electricity. So we need to be able to swap and share with other jurisdictions that have different weather patterns. We’re blessed to have interconnection with Victoria at the moment,” van Holst Pellekaan said.
“But South Australia and Victoria is where the patterns are far more similar than South Australia and New South Wales where the patterns are so unique.”
“You need to be able to share with somebody who has and needs different things at different times. So interconnection is incredibly important for our state, but also for the NEM more broadly.”
Van Holst Pellekaan said that the current economic challenges presented by the Covid-19 responses would not be used as an excuse to wind back measures to support for the clean energy sector.
The South Australian energy minister told the summit that the government saw measures incentivising the installation of distributed energy resources, like residential battery storage, would help to stimulate economic activity in the short term, while also setting up the state to benefit in the long-term.
“We don’t have to undo our policies, we probably just to strengthen our policies and speed them up and give them even more focused than they’ve already got in a COVID world,” Van Holst Pellekaan said.
“But the types of things that we’re looking for, we want to be able to help with stimulus, we want to create greater productivity as we come out and we also wants to create greater other benefit opportunities, like cleaner economy when we come out the other end.”
“I am fully committed to what we are doing, and I want South Australia on determined that South Australia will be net 100% renewable energy electricity generation by 2030,” Van Holst Pellekaan added.
Read more coverage from the Stimulus Summit: