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South Australia on track to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2016

South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill said the Australian state will soon have 50% renewable energy during the launch in Paris of The Compact of States and Regions, which provides the first ever single, global account of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets made by state and regional governments. “We are running a big international experiment right now,” Weatherill said during the launch.

South Australia is at the cutting edge of the transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to an energy system dominated by technologies such as wind, solar and storage. Its last coal-fired power plant is due to close in March 2016.

“We have got a long, skinny transmission system and we will soon have 50% renewable energy, including a lot of wind and some solar,” he said.

“We need technology breakthroughs for large-scale storage, such as pumped hydro or batteries, but these are massive technological challenges that are exciting opportunities for the state.”

The state is also focusing on transport, looking to electrify its bus and private car network, and is keen to attract the interest of electric vehicle manufacturing.

It is also supporting its capital city, Adelaide, in its push to become the first large carbon neutral city in the world.

Weatherill conceded that the state was taking risks, but given the demise of traditional industries such as car manufacturing in the state it sees huge opportunities in clean energy technology.

“We know there are challenges here,” Weatherill told RenewEconomy. “But with big risks, go big opportunities.”

A panel of experts convened by the South Australian government found that it is feasible for the state to achieve a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and that a commitment to this target will position South Australia well in a low-carbon world.