CEC media release

South Australian Government renews energy for change

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Accelerating the uptake of renewable energy and battery storage in South Australia is the key to ensuring greater competition and diversifying South Australia’s electricity mix away from increasingly expensive gas, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said South Australia’s electricity system will continue to benefit from the deployment of renewable energy and storage technology, but that careful strategic planning and reform was crucial to facilitate the higher levels of renewable energy the state has committed to.

“South Australia’s power prices were historically higher than the rest of the country, dating back to before a single wind turbine was built in the state,” Mr Thornton said.

“The state has a relatively small number of power users spread out across a large area. Its power system uses a lot of gas power and there is only a handful of power providers, and these factors combine to make electricity more expensive.

“A diverse group including energy retailers, users, generators and the state government met in Adelaide yesterday to discuss emerging issues in the market. What was of the most concern was the availability and competitiveness of long-term contracts for large power users and the ongoing high price of gas.

“Australia is gradually making the switch to a much cleaner, smarter energy system. Most credible estimates predict renewable energy such as solar and wind will be the cheapest available power within 5-15 years. And with around 40 per cent of its power already coming from renewable energy, South Australia is leading the way in making that transition.

“This is an overwhelmingly positive change, and there are solutions to address all the challenges along the way as we use higher proportions of renewable energy. South Australia has never shied away from progress and the energy transition is another example of that leadership.

“What we need is innovative thinking and ideas, more market competition from new clean power generators and ongoing collaboration to ensure the best outcomes for South Australian businesses and residents,” he said.  

Mr Thornton said despite some attempts to paint renewable energy as unreliable, the operator of the National Electricity Market has stated that SA’s power supply will continue to meets its reliability standards after its coal-fired power stations have shut down.

“South Australia has an extraordinarily reliable power system. A single, short-lived blackout that affected some Adelaide households six weeks ago was related to maintenance on the link between South Australia and the rest of the national power grid – not renewable energy as some opponents have claimed.”

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.

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