South Australia's renewable energy future hanging by a thread

South Australia’s renewable energy future hanging by a thread

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Just two days out from South Australia’s state poll, the result is in the balance, and so too is the fate of its status as a world leader in renewable energy. The outcome will also have huge bearing on the pace of the energy transition for the whole of the country.

An artist's impression of the Aurora plant to be built by SolarReserve in South Australia.
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Source: AAP

It’s an election that is impossible to call. And too important to ignore.

Just two days out from the South Australia state poll, the result is in the balance, and so too is the fate of South Australia’s status as a world leader in renewable energy. It’s an outcome that could have a huge bearing on the pace of the energy transition for the whole of the country.

It was supposed to be a three-horse race between Labor – facing the monumental task of trying to secure a fifth consecutive term after 16 years in power – the SA Liberals, and Nick Xenophon’s newly formed SA Best.

Xenophon – hugely popular three months ago – has slipped back in the polls, but his party could still be kingmaker early next week, choosing to support a minority government of either Labor or the Liberals, based on the number of seats, votes, or some other criteria.

For what it’s worth, SportsBet is favouring a Labor victory, saying the odds have come in at $1.78  from $2.30), compared to the Liberals ($2.10, out from $1.57) and SA Best ($16, out from $6.50). The best odds are for a hung parliament ($1.33, in from $1.45).

More relevant, perhaps, is the assessment of ABC election analyst Anthony Green, who says that due to a redistribution of seats since the 2014 poll, the Liberals are already sitting on a notional majority of 24 seats.

That means Labor would need a 3 per cent swing in its favour, not counting the influence of SA Best, to displace them. On local radio on Thursday morning, the local pundits weren’t seeing it – putting Labor at 18-19 seats, well short of the 24 they will need to govern in their own account.

This is a troubling prospect for the clean energy industry, and for those who want to see South Australia continue its world-leading transition to a renewables-based economy, and to set an example for the rest of the country.

If renewables were to be the deciding factor in this election, then Labor would be a shoe-in.

Renewables – despite the repeated attempts to demonise wind and solar – remain hugely popular, even among Liberal voters. But Labor is the only party to fully articulate how it sees the state’s energy future unfolding, and how it will manage it.

Premier Jay Weatherill has outlined a 75 per cent renewable energy target for 2025, along with a 25 per cent “renewable storage” target, and has made it clear that he will not be cowed by the right-wing bully boys in Canberra, or the coal lobby. He has set the state’s own agenda and is sticking to it.

His policy is to focus on embracing this energy transition with world-leading and world-biggest initiatives such as the Tesla big battery, the world’s biggest solar tower at Port Augusta, the world’s biggest “virtual power plant”, and the biggest wind and solar-powered hydrogen electrolyser, among a host of other projects.

An artist’s impression of the Aurora plant to be built by SolarReserve in South Australia.

Crucially, this renewables vision is backed up by the actions of business people like Sanjeev Gupta, who says the future of manufacturing and other energy intensive industries depend on cheap green energy, and Germany’s sonnen, which intends to build a battery storage manufacturing plant in Australia.

The Liberals, on the other hand, are all over the shop. Their campaign – much of it based around the sort of conservative myths we outline here – has already been censured by the SA electoral commission, which accuses them of being “inaccurate and misleading.”

The Liberals issued a fleeting and begrudging apology over its claim of huge bill reductions. (Most of the reductions will be delivered by Labor’s in-place policies). But if the Liberals win, the energy industry is not sure what to expect, apart from more myth making.

The Liberals policy document constantly refers to out-dated solutions such as “baseload”, without ever explaining what that might be: in South Australia, that cannot mean coal, nor should it mean expensive gas.

They vow to scrap the state-based target, and they declare support for the federal Coalition’s National Energy Guarantee, despite fears it would worsen South Australia’s principal problem – the lack of competition and the resultant high prices.

The inconsistency of the Liberals position is perhaps best summed up by the blogger Ronald Brakels, who noted in this piece on SolarQuotes:

  • They (the Liberals) blame Labor for not having enough back up power but are against the state-owned power plant that provides back up power.
  • They say they support free market policies but blame Labor for not interfering in the market to prevent a private company from closing a coal power station.
  • The (Liberal policy) document claims the SA grid is unreliable but also says the state-owned power plant is a waste of money because the grid is so reliable it will only get used an average of once every 10 years.
  • They have nothing good to say about Labor, but many policies they say they will follow are similar to what Labor is doing.

It is this last point that is most salient to the industry.

The state – with the projects under construction – is already committed to well in excess of 50 per cent renewables. It is the lack of vision, and the sort of mindless opposition to new technologies that pervades their federal counterparts, that scares participants the most.

The Liberals don’t support a state-based target, but Marshall himself has admitted that reaching 75 per cent by 2025 is certainly achievable.

In fact, apart from deliberately blocking the likes of Gupta from building huge solar plants to protect the future of industries like the Whyalla steel works, it’s hard to see how South Australia could fail to meet that target.

The Australian Energy Market Operator, for instance, says that S.A. could reach 73 per cent renewables by 2020/21, and doesn’t seem concerned about being able to manage this, talking enthusiastically of the new technologies like the Tesla big battery.

But stopping people from reaching targets is what the Coalition has proved adept at doing.

The national RET effectively came to a halt for three years – a major cause for the recent price spikes on the wholesale market – as the Coalition looked to trash the scheme altogether. And the NEG appears to be designed with the intent to stifle wind and solar projects over the next decade.

Ominously, the SA Liberals talk of requiring solar and wind developers to provide “market impact” studies for renewable projects.

The Liberals openly agree with Labor only on their support for the proposed solar tower and molten salt storage project in South Australia (it’s in the electorate of the Liberals energy spokesman, Dan van Holst Pellekaan), and on delivering battery storage for households.

The Liberals target 40,000 households in a means-tested grant program offering $2,500 for each installation, while Labor targets 60,000 households in two different schemes targeting low-income households with zero upfront payments.

Liberals wants an interconnector to NSW to be built soon, Labor is happy to wait. The Liberals don’t seem to have a plan of what to do with excess wind and solar capacity.

Labor is looking at battery storage and pumped hydro, and its Renewable Technology Fund has probably already locked in about 400MW of storage capacity. It is also looking to see if hydrogen can deliver the promise of green energy exports.

As for the others, Xenophon’s SA Best remains vague on its details, and how to manage this energy transition, but it accepts that it is inevitable, and that 90 per cent renewables by 2030 is possible, although not a target.

The Greens want to go the whole hog, to 100 per cent by 2025, but do not appear to have much traction in this poll. Cory Bernardi’s Conservatives propose the usual right-wing nonsense – wanting to build a 1GW coal plant and create a nuclear waste dump.

So, what does the renewable and storage industry want? Without doubt, another Weatherill government.

Liberals leader Steve Marshall and energy spokesman Pellekaan, a former BP executive, have railed long and hard against wind. Pellekaan himself blamed it for power surges that caused outages, and has echoed federal resource minister Matt Canavan’s call for the Northern coal generator to be re-opened.

Labor has mis-stepped – its energy security target was misguided, but it had the sense to dump it; it probably didn’t need to buy the emergency back-up diesel generators when a lease might have been better value; and its pro-gas drilling agenda is troubling for many.

But Weatherill’s vision is clear.

“People are proud of our leadership on renewable energy,” he noted in the recent interview in the popular Energy Insiders podcast. Even people who are not completely convinced about climate change believe that renewables are the technologies of the future.”

But he’s not getting much support in the mainstream media. The Murdoch press, dominant in South Australia, firmly supports the Liberals. Even the Guardian, in its main electoral wrap – slugged “It’s time for change” when first published – ignored the energy issue.

But Weatherill’s fear is that if Labor loses, it will be termed as a defeat for renewables, and an excuse to wind back policies.

“What will happen, should we not be successful, the opponents of renewable energy will say South Australia’s leadership in renewable energy was the cause of their demise. That will be used against any other government that wants to push deeply into renewable energy.”

And that’s a prospect that makes you feel ill.

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  1. Joe 3 years ago

    Marshall’s energy spokesdude, The Pelican, just another stooge for Big Fossil Fuel.

  2. Brunel 3 years ago

    Nope. Solar panels are constantly falling in price.

  3. mick 3 years ago

    a defining moment right now

  4. Hettie 3 years ago

    So we wait with bated breath.
    Only 2 more sleeps.
    Nothing has been said about the upper house, how much clout it will have, what the split is likely to be. I just hope that Jay has some hafway decent communications advice.
    Everything crossed. We need him, to kill the NEG, to prove that Josh is a bag of hot air, to establish for the sceptics that renewable is not only better and faster, but cheaper.

    • hydrophilia 3 years ago

      (And THANK YOU for not writing “baited” as so many do… although I’d be happy to have the Coalition eat worms.)

      • Hettie 3 years ago

        Glad you approve. I’m a grumpy old woman from the era when we were taught proper English. No misplaced apostrophes, towed lines or free reigns for me.
        And I laughed myself silly at the image of the LNP pollies eating worms. As long as it’s not my garden they are in. Certainly nobody loves them, everybody hates them.

        • Frank Speaking 3 years ago

          Wasn’t there a song about that – fitting LNP theme song

          • Hettie 3 years ago

            Sure was.

  5. Cooma Doug 3 years ago

    If SA looses the labor leadership on energy, there might be a trend toward grid escape. The crazy LNP policy plus the crash of solar and wind costs will make it crazy to go onto the grid for new homes and small business.
    If this happens the political push might come from large companies needing to get into the new technology to survive. There will also be a surge at local government level to seek energy freedom in the new world.

    • neroden 3 years ago

      Grid escape seems to be a well-developed trend in Australia already; it will only accelerate.

  6. Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

    Do SA want to be the leaders of the nation on renewable energy which they are – or become mere followers if they elect a Liberal heavily vested-interest government.

    • Hettie 3 years ago

      I seriously doubt that most voters will have such philosophical questions cross their minds. I can only hope that Jay has been able to communicate that the sharp fall in the SA wholesale price of power will result in an equally sharp fall in the retail price come July 1st.
      Such a shame that the election date is fixed to come before the new financial year.
      A new Coalition Gov’t would no doubt claim credit for the inevitable price crash.
      There is no justice in such matters.

      • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

        It’s an amazing transition and it’s helping find the right renewables model that the rest of the country will also adopt soon enough. Would be such a shame if the Coalition gets in and starts backpeddling on that transition. Don’t changes horses mid-stream comes to mind.

  7. solarguy 3 years ago

    Let’s hope Jay will prevail and that South Australian’s vote for the best Premier this country has ever seen.

    • rob 3 years ago

      Except DON DUNSTAN!

  8. Grpfast 3 years ago

    Pray for us! I will find it difficult to live with if liberal conservatives (including Xenophon) takes us back to the Stone Age because of the ignorant.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Pray for yourself.

      • Grpfast 3 years ago

        I will be of course. But the rest of the country should be concerned for their future. If Labor loses the National conservatives will take it as a sign to deny the future and “sit on their hands”.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          Sorry to be the one to break this to you. People have much regard for their fellows without the counter-intuitive nincompoop-fuck of ‘prayer’ that you suggest.

          It is because we have all heard your shite before! Ad nauseam.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          The conservatives will deny the future and sit on their hands, win lose or draw, and a few Hail Mary’s ain’t going to change that.

    • Hettie 3 years ago

      Don’t do prayer, but will be watching anxiously and sending strong vibes to the universe.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      Get out and hand out how to vote cards. Talk to all your friends and enemies. Wear a “Make Jay Great Again” hat. Prayer is useless.

  9. Jake Frederics2 3 years ago

    What exactly is “South Australia leading the world in”? Do you refer to highest end customer pricing in the world? It is not like South Australia is manufacturing or developing any renewable energy products or technology

    Let us be realistic when making best-in-the-world claims

    Luckily we have a “philanthropists” like Musk and Gupta happy to help SA when in need.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Renewables powered steel mills.

      Pull your head out Jakey.

    • DevMac 3 years ago

      50% of electricity use from renewables in 2017. Biggest Li-ion battery in the world. Progressive policies (such as 75% renewables by 2025).

      • Jake Frederics2 3 years ago

        So what you are saying is not really any genuine leadership; actually correct term is “spending the most taxpayer money on:…” and having the most progress policy.

        If SA was a corporation the shareholders would have demanded the head of the CEO for management failure

        • rob 3 years ago

          GO AWAY TROLL

          • Hettie 3 years ago

            There’s a down vote button, folks. USE IT!

          • Peter F 3 years ago

            rob, I don’t agree with what he says but you should always listen to alternative views there is often a grain of truth there somewhere

          • John Blundell 3 years ago

            yeah man – with a grain of truth you can start a rumour, with a rumour you can trigger a street killing and one of them can start a civil war
            And after that Donald Trump will join in
            What could possibly go wrong?

        • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

          There’s never any substance to troll arguments, including yours.

          • Jake Frederics2 3 years ago

            Don’t just call someone a Troll if you don’t really have a good reply.

            Having a 75% renewable target just for the sake of it is dumb. SA has been pretty good to exploit the “low hanging fruit” of the renewable world eg. Solar, Wind and grid backup from VIC etc.

            The closer SA get to 100% the more eng challenges they will face. Going from 50 to 75% and beyond will depend a lot on storage……wait another 5y and storage will be 50% the cost it is today. Why rush it? SA is not saving the planet or the Barrier Reef all on their own.

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Jake if you absorbed what AEMO are saying, SA will be at around 75% soon, not by accident or state government fiat but because ordinary people are buying the cheapest route to low cost reliable power. The engineering challenges are minor, as any rational person would recognise that Australia faces political intransigence and incompetence in so many facets of ordinary life it’s bewildering. So when it’s a matter of when not if, it is absolutely reasonable for people to demand pollies get of their high ideological horses, engage the engineers, and get on with the job.

          • Jake Frederics2 3 years ago

            I personally don’t think they will be at 75% that soon but I could be wrong.

            Unlike most people on this site I am 100% off grid (water+elec) and I know how easy 50% is. 75% is a bit of a challenge and with 100% it becomes a constant juggling between generation, consumption, load management and prayers (…please rain hard for 1 day; don’t rain 7 days!)……..and that is with enough panels to generate about 3 times the amount of electricity I actually use on a yearly basis.

            SA is heavily dependent on other states like NSW and VIC for backup. If all states go for a 75% renewable target by 2025 we potentially be in big trouble. SA can do it only because demand is very low compare to the other biggest Eastern states.

          • BushAxe 3 years ago

            You’re just repeating MSM ‘facts’, SA will achieve 75% with the rollout of large scale solar, storage will fill the next 15% and the market will decide what the last 10% is. And SA has sufficient thermal generation to meet demand without the need to import.

          • Calamity_Jean 3 years ago

            Hey, don’t forget wind! Solar and wind complement each other quite well and the combination requires much less storage or fossil backup than either alone.

          • Giles 3 years ago

            SA has always been heavily dependent on imports from other grids, even before renewables. It will be less dependent with 75% renewables, according to AEMO.
            SA is certainly not dependent on NSW. For one, it is not connected to NSW. Secondly, NSW – despite being the grid with the highest share of coal generation than any state – imports more electricity from other states as a proportion of its use than any other.
            You should get some advice about your off grid set-up. I know heaps of people around my area who are off grid. They don’t need to pray.

          • Peter F 3 years ago

            Jake. At the current rate of 15 MW of solar per month and the large scale plants already under construction or financed, SA will be 75% renewables within 3 years even if no new projects are announced.
            Unlike your situation, they have widely dispersed generators, and a lot of wind and they can export/import. This financial year they will already be net exporters.
            The wide dispersal of generation types, locations and yes, over-capacity all reduce the need for storage both in power and duration.
            As peak load occurs during the day where west facing rooftops and tracking solar are still generating and sea breezes are starting to kick in, by 2020 SA will have minimum renewable generation of 500 MW at system peak, . With the usual hot day northerlies, renewable generation will be close to 2,000 MW. System peak will be around 2,800 MW

            Apparently two synchronous converters are being added and it is clear batteries and wind farms can provide a lot more synthetic inertia than most people expected. AGL’s reciprocating engines can start much faster than gas turbines and handle pulse load changes far better. These changes will mean that AEMO will be able to gradually reduce the amount of must run gas on the system and wind curtailment will be reduced.

            There are already a few instances where SA exports are more than their entire thermal generation, these will increase every month so gradually gas generation will fall and exports will increase and imports decrease. However there will till be times where imports are 700-800 MW for a few hours and days where they average 550 MW but don’t be surprised if within two years there will be days then weeks then months where exports outweigh gas generation + imports

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Jake I would say “interdependent” rather than “dependent” which is as it should be – it is why we have a grid rather than isolated networks. All regions should be aiming at 120% or so of RE, since overbuild with RE plus energy management is likely to be the lowest cost future. And we haven’t even begun to look seriously at electrification of transport: a security review on ABC this morning indicated we would last 49days in the event of disruption to fuel supplies!

            SA in the not too distant future will be a resilient, low cost, largely RE grid. Vic is a disaster waiting to happen, relying on increasingly erratic old thermal plants with nothing to replace them, limited connectivity to alternatives including the Snowy, and weak networks in the west and north where wind and solar could help. It has few pumped hydro sites. NSW is spoiled for choice and hence has been slow to move.

          • Hettie 3 years ago

            Sounds like you need more tanks and some swales and dams.

          • Colin Nicholson 3 years ago

            So you see no connection between demand for batteries (ie money for development) and the price falling. Why doesn’t everybody including the battery manufacturers wait 5 years? Oh look an energy challenge – run away run away

          • DevMac 3 years ago

            Since SA was already at 50% in 2017, I’d say 75% by 2025 is an achievable target. Far from “dumb”.

            “SA has been pretty good to exploit the “low hanging fruit” of the renewable world”

            If that’s all they’re doing, and they’re a world leader, then everyone else is dropping the ball pretty heavily. Low hanging fruit is always the first and smartest option, yet you seem to be claiming this as a negative.

          • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

            It’s not being rushed, their grid is running on 75% renewables as I type btw.

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Rooftop solar this afternoon on the NEM was 3.3GW (out of 7GW) while coal was 12GW. Coal is being retired while rooftop is increasing at >1GW/a. Ordinary consumers are rushing to stop the bleed of high power bills!

        • Peter F 3 years ago

          So why would that be Jake. It is true that Weatherill’s previous boasting about renewable success was a bit of a fib, he was riding on the success of the Commonwealth RET which placed a lot of wind in SA because that was the most profitable place to put it, almost nothing to do with the state government.
          However after the failure by AEMO to manage the abundant reserves (less than half SA’s gas capacity was running during the blackout) he did what good leaders do and acted.

          SA got through summer with something like 700 MW (25% of gas capacity) unused, wholesale power prices for the last 100 days are down 10% on the previous period. . i.e. reliability solved, price down 10% in less than a year. Not a bad result

          What would you propose ???

        • DevMac 3 years ago

          Policy is leadership. Policy is potentially the best leadership that politicians can actually perform.

          Spending taxpayer money on the future of the state’s energy production. I totally support that.

          “If SA was a corporation the shareholders would have demanded the head of the CEO for management failure”

          If SA wasn’t as progressive on renewables, the shareholders would be selling their stocks to pay their household electricity bills (to the private enterprises that own the generation and distribution).

      • Hettie 3 years ago

        Huge fall in wholesale price of power. Unfortunately the retail price is locked in until (I think) July 1.

    • Frank Speaking 3 years ago

      It is such a pity the Risk averse agrarian Colonial Conservatives have had such a massive influence in Australia since we lost so many of our progressive risk takers in the Empires wars , the Crimean, Boer, WW1 especially and WW2 while the risk averse conservatives stayed safely at hole manipulating a stranglehold on Australia’s future, ensuring we would never be anything more than a hole in the ground or a field of wheat sheep or beef.

      • Jake Frederics2 3 years ago

        What a bunch of BS.

        • Warwick Sands 3 years ago

          I can’t speak for some of the statements but I know that Australia was a world leader in computing back in the 1950s and the Menzies government effectively said “we don’t need a computing industry let’s sell wool instead”

          • John Blundell 3 years ago

            Dammit man, tell me what is wrong with putting a chap with a flag in front of the horseless carriage?

        • Hettie 3 years ago

          I’ve just checked Jake’s archive.
          He has been commenting here for five months. Mostly a load of rubbish. In all that time he has received just 12 up votes. Wonder why he bothers.

          • Jake Frederics2 3 years ago

            Of course only 12 up votes. This is a green site which does not really tolerate critical thoughts.

          • daw 3 years ago

            Right you are Jake. ‘ This is a green site which does not really tolerate critical thoughts.’

      • DevMac 3 years ago

        That’s an interesting viewpoint… a very long bow.

  10. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    South Australia has the highest energy prices in Australia. These costs are dropping.

    South Australia appears to have the least reliable grid in Australia. Since privatisation by Olsen the Liberal Premier in the 1990’s, when it was sold to the Chinese, it has progressively got worse.

    If the Liberals or the Xenophonies are elected, things may improve on the back of the good work in renewable energy undertaken by the Labor Party.

    The Liberals have shown that they are not fair dinkum about jobs by pork barrelling Queensland with the army vehicle contract where there are 8 marginal seats, instead of South Australia that had an experienced work force in place after the closure of Holden.

    The strategy to push ahead with renewable energy by Labor will bring the largest number of renewable energy related jobs per capita in Australia according to the Climate Council

    There really is only one way to go is South Australia – vote Labor!

  11. Robin_Harrison 3 years ago

    This would be a brief hiccough at most. The superior economics of RE+storage are becoming more obvious by the day. The cat is well and truly out of the bag.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Never underestimate the fools… there are too many of them…

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Looks like the gullible fools fell for it, I’m sad to say Max.

  12. Richard Wilson 3 years ago

    Yes I am certainly hoping Labor do get back in.
    It will be difficult – they have some baggage after 16years in government.
    But I am glad that they have allocated the funds they had set aside to a wide range or renewable projects – including large scale solar (wind has been the main feature in the past) and storage both pumped and battery. So I sense there is enough in the pipeline to keep making progress for 2 or 3 years. I pray that indeed happens at least!

  13. rob 3 years ago

    AT APPROX 3PM. TODAY (oops cap lock) I saw XENOPHOBIA a candidate in my electorate…… Automatic pilot kicked in and I pulled up in a disabled car park space with windows open and my German Shepherd barking like crazy at all the camera crews and screamed out…..”FUCK OFF YOU TOSSER….. YOU ARE A DEVIL” in front of my local IGA……woops all cameras turned on me and my agro german pup…… so I repeated it for the cameras!……I might be famous for 5 seconds on tele tonight!

    • mick 3 years ago

      hope so nice work

    • Rod 3 years ago

      I bet that doesn’t make Friday’s Mudrake rag. Well done.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Gee it must have taken some balls to do that…………….. “our hero”!

      • daw 3 years ago

        Nah – Rude and stupid more aptly Deserves to be booked for foul language in a public place

  14. Peter F 3 years ago

    There are 330 MW of wind being built now and 600 MW of utility solar in construction or at least has contracts signed. You seem to announce another 1-5 MW rooftop project every second day and both sides support the solar thermal plant while SA is installing 15 MW of rooftop capacity/ month + Onesteel 80 MW. Over the next 2-3 years, with just the continuation of rooftop solar and every other planned project stopped, there will be 3.5-5 TWh of new generation. That is 33-43% of SA demand so still 75%+ renewables in 4 years no matter who is in charge.

    In fact there is a reasonable argument that just as Trump has actually accelerated local action to increase the pace of coal closures in the US a anti-renewables Liberal government might stir enough individuals and companies to take action.

    With the new gas plant from AGL, Origin installing more efficient gas turbines (probably won’t happen) and privatising of the emergency generators by Marshall, SA’s gas generation fleet will be both more efficient and awash with capacity. Energy prices will fall, emissions will fall, SA energy exports will increase (Pelican Point and The new AGL plant and even the TM 2500’s are much cheaper to run than any Victorian or NSW gas plant)

    The Liberals will claim all the credit and build the new interconnector to export more power to NSW to help them overcome power shortages. Perhaps it will connect through a stronger NSW link to Broken Hill to allow Silverton stage II and new solar farms in that area to help NSW’s transition

    So do not despair. In SA the game is effectively won. The possible downside of a Liberal win might be the encouragement of anti-renewable forces in NSW, it won’t make much difference in QLD. and Victoria and by next year Tassie will be 95%+ renewables + anyway

    • Rod 3 years ago

      Yes, the disappointing thing for me will be the Lieberals taking credit for Labor’s efforts. Even worse will be Mayhem Turmoil crowing if they win, like he did with SSM.

      • Jake Frederics2 3 years ago

        That will be a pity; Labor has done such an amazing job.

        • Rod 3 years ago


      • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

        As you have seen, the Fed LNP is capable of stuffing up even their own messing with Labor policies! Partly because their level of intellectual dissonance is at radioactive levels, and partly because of the malice of some of their number.

        • Frank Speaking 3 years ago

          What do you expect when Murdoch and the IPA and BCA (Now more a council of lobby groups , think thanks and Developers) are the ones calling the shots and they can’t be across every little thing, so of course left to themselves they revert to normal , stuffing everything up – true sexy fingers

    • Hettie 3 years ago

      That’s all very well, but there is more at stake for the people of SA than the source and price of their electricity.
      Not only that, it’s up to COAG to kill off the appalling NEG, and without a Labor Gov’t in SA, that will be very difficult.
      Your post has a flavour about it of “Fuck SA, renewables are safe there, who cares about anything else.”
      I find that very unpleasant. Please tell me I’m wrong.

      • Peter F 3 years ago

        No Hettie I am sorry I have misled you. With whatever influence I have I have been campaigning against the NEG at every opportunity. Rather I am saying that SA will get a more reliable, lower cost electricity supply anyway and will demonstrate the lack of necessity for the NEG

        In fact I am beginning to think that even though the NEG is a ridiculous concept, it is becoming less of a concern every day because
        a) The reliability bit won’t actually matter for the next couple of years and if Queensland and Victoria follow through on their current plans, it will only be NSW that has a reliability issue.
        Not only did Victoria get through its highest Sunday demand day ever, with power to spare, it is installing more renewables and storage as I write. Murra Muarra, Stockyard Creek, Mount Gellibrand, Bulgana, Kiata and Salt Creek wind farms are under way as well as about 1,000 MW of solar farms. These projects will supply around 10% of Victoria’s annual demand even before the current tenders for renewables and storage are awarded. It is expanding its demand response market and installing storage.
        Further it will be able to draw from SA and Tasmania more often as both of those states are installing more wind and solar and in SA more storage
        b) A future government can easily turn up the renewable dial in the guarantee
        c) After Abbott/Turnbull
        1.destroyed Victoria’s biggest manufacturing industry
        2. Refused to use Victoria’s undoubted depth in defence and vehicle manufacturing expertise at Williamstown and Bendigo to provide replacement jobs
        3. Gives Victoria’s 25% of the population 8% of infrastructure funds
        4. Insults the state government at every opportunity,
        Do you think Ms D’Ambrosio or the Premier will roll over for the NEG

        I think it will be another one of those LNP thought bubbles that will be honoured in the breach and probably join Snowy II and the NBN in Malcolm’s list of useless projects

        • Hettie 3 years ago

          Good. Thank you.

      • daw 3 years ago

        Sorry your wrong Hettie!
        These renewables are a great concept but that’s about all at this stage.When the technology catches up, If it does , will be the right time to go for it. Until then be realistic and rely on proven technology that provides power all the time.

        • Hettie 3 years ago

          I have an ironclad personal policy to never feed trolls.

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Oh compassion Hettie. He probably hasn’t been put of late to either practice English or notice they’ve demolished a few more unreliable smoke stacks!

          • Hettie 3 years ago

            Yeah. I guess that’s what happens when you live under bridges.

          • Calamity_Jean 3 years ago

            Or in Russia?

    • John Blundell 3 years ago

      Thanks for your high-quality relevant information and prodigious work output in general Giles
      I listened and took notes from that i/v David Leach and you did in December with Tim Nelson Chief Economist AGL this morning
      My kingdom for an economic model! And you’d like to hear more ‘scenarios?’
      As I implied above your tenacity is admirable
      Energy yeh
      Looks as though Disqus allows me a piccie so try this screenshot from this afternoon in Adelaide for a bit of campaign focus..
      This while some poor old soul Doris Robo-Called me about her worries and I rudely hung up on her

      • mick 3 years ago

        the ipa bloke was doing last minute political advertising,interesting that he would want to dump subsidies on fossil fuels also

        • John Blundell 3 years ago

          He couldn’t help getting drawn into that one
          IPA takes so much from Hayek free market unregulated unsubsidised anarchy it’s astounding they could be uncritically embraced and so obviously promoted by the ABC

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Think of the new ABC management and perpetual interference by government in its independence and all is clear: according to the LNP, any media that doesn’t sound like Murdoch is biased! Just look at the Alberici debacle – attack the messenger not the message.

          • John Blundell 3 years ago

            The ?Emma Alberici event really must have been an attack on pro journalism that did not go unnoticed around the world – a trigger prompting UN and other human rights observers of our country to fire up and level criticism at this stumbling government.
            And what a weekend this will be with climate lies swinging an election and a by-election ( 🙂 I wish) and the ASEAN blah ignoring genocide only 3 or 4 thousand km to the north..

  15. MaxG 3 years ago

    I tells a story when you see a 3% gain by the liberals… the people are like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving! It shows the endless stupidity present in the population… like we say, no right-minded person could possible vote for the neolibs. This election marks a sad day as it is.

    • Frank Speaking 3 years ago

      Too many either don’t know about or have forgotten, due to age or youth or because they want to , that most of their problems are inherited from the previous Liberal Government

      • mick 3 years ago

        aided by xzenophon

    • Peter F 3 years ago

      the 3% gain mentioned was just as a result of the redistribution which had been biased to Labor

  16. JIm 3 years ago

    Weatherill is in with a chance because he has ushered in renewables at the end of the RET era. He may fall short but it is worth noting that his claim that this is a referendum about renewables is not entirely convincing. There is likely to be a change in government in Canberra and there wasn’t in Queensland. GetUp opted not to treat the SA election as a ‘referendum on renewables’ and in a three way race only a minor party, The Australian Conservatives, was emphatically anti-renewables – this despite Cori’s rooftop solar!

  17. Francis Young 3 years ago

    “They say they support free market policies but blame Labor for not interfering in the market to prevent a private company from closing a coal power station.”

    They actiually blame the 16-year-old Labor government for so heavily subsidising wind that wind generators could undercut coal on price (when the breeze blew), forcing the private coal operator to close. For $25 million, they could have kept the Northern Power Station ticking over to provide synchronous energy to underpin the State’s demand peaks, keeping prices down while allowing renewables to still increase. That is, they blame Labor for not supporting the business that gave South Australia energy security, especially west of Adelaide.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      Francis your ignorance of the market is astounding, but maybe explains why there is not more support for Weatherall. The scheme that supports wind is a Federal scheme under the Renewable Energy Target. Northern if you did on ounce of research was old and inefficient with a dirty supply of coal, expensive to operation and maintain, and private sector experts judged its day had come – why would bureaucratics step in an contradict the owner’s advice? Isn’t that the sort of behaviour that gets Labor abused by Coalition supporters all the time?!?

      • Francis Young 3 years ago

        Old and dirty? Is that the best you can do? Solar-pre-heating water at Liddell in NSW was an inexpensive retrofit that slashed its coal consumption to heat already warm water to produce steam for the massive turbines.

        Meanwhile, the subsidies were not limited to RET. South Australia alone paid $117 million in feed-in-tariffs to solar in 2015-2016, amounting to a subsidy of around $214 per MWh generated! Nationally, wind subsidies were $902 milllion, or $74 per MWh generated. Coal produces most of Australia’s electricity, yet coal subsidies totalled just $63 million, or 30 cents per MWh generated. For a paltry $25 million, South Australia’s last remaining cheap and reliable electricity source, whose isolation mitigates the impact of its emissions, even without cleaning them further, could have been kept viable for another decade while you built the next generation of sources. Chemical batteries are not a generation source. The best insurance against the loss of the interconnector, or even of intrastate powerlines, is to have several largeish generation sources that are running well below their capacity, and that can be scaled up quickly and provide sustained current for at least a day. Day three of a heatwave is a scary time if you are relying on wind, chemical batteries, or even diesel.

        • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

          I worked for a year in the department in Qld that although including energy in it’s title was almost entirely dedicated to providing free information to coal miners. Coal mining including Leigh Ck have been beneficiaries to significant government support thru accelerated depreciation and exploration write downs, as well as ongoing rebates of their diesel costs. The notion that there is some pure sector of our economy that does without tax payer support is nonsense. Your numbers on wind are mythical, endlessly recycled by Murdoch and other lobby groups. But even if there were real, Oz has long used government support and policy to drive the change you seem to agree is required. That the policies have been incoherent and inefficient is not debated.

          Day 3 in a heatwave is a yawn with good insulation, solar on your roof and thermal storage – the sooner householders in SA realise that the better.

          • John Blundell 3 years ago

            Heroic, Mike. You’re a more patient disciplined man than me.
            I visited Leigh Creek coalfield when I was 5 years old. There are black & white snaps of little John at the dragline – tiny by modern standards – but no I don’t want to be bothered scanning them for Facebook or some shit. Now I’m 67 I got over it 🙂

        • daw 3 years ago

          I agree with you Francis but this isn’t really a place for sound and sensible discussions with a whole lot of garbled babble from a lot of the commentary.

  18. danielspencer 3 years ago

    If you live in SA there’s still time to share this renewable target scorecard with your friends:

  19. daw 3 years ago

    Don’t any of you people look at the bar graphs when you come onto this site, As I switched in the SA graph showed 1153 MW of gas,110 MW of wind and about 60 of solar.
    Wind powered Leading the world – Pfft – Germany generates more than that at it’s worst.
    You would all be without power if it wasn’t for the gas + some interconnected Brown coal fired power from the Vic grid.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      Until the alternatives are built we’ll put up with second best and tolerate troglodyte muttering about the dangers of horseless carriages and not wearing hair shirts.

      • John Blundell 3 years ago

        Was it true Mr Marshall is going to smash unemployment by terrifying nursing home residents with Wilson Security guards or will it just be a chap (or possibly a gal) walking with a flag in front of every motor car? Luddism really is an honest cartoonist’s paradise..

    • Peter F 3 years ago

      The beauty of gas and wind is that they work well together, there are other times where SA has been generating more than 1,100 MW of wind and ltotal demand was less 1050 MW so it was exporting all the gas it is generating. Similarly there are times when there is almost no wind and gas + imports supply all the load.

      There has not been a single instance in the last 5 months where demand in SA has exceeded whatever renewables were available + registered gas capacity.
      Victorian brown coal is cheaper than SA OC gas and diesel (by the way SA has had diesel peaking plants for many years as have most other states) so when Brown coal when available and wind is low SA imports. When wind is high and SA demand is below peak, SA exports because SA wind is cheaper than Victorian gas. i.e. by trading both states save money

      SA currently has 3,300 MW of registered thermal power and only 1,700 MW of wind and practically no on grid solar so one would expect that gas would supply much of the generation but in fact over the year it supplies slightly less than wind. i.e. the capacity factor of thermal plants is around half that of the wind plants.
      In summary you use wind and solar when you can and gas when you have to.

      • Norm 3 years ago

        One assumes the tech has developed to burn brown coal cleanly??
        Ocean surge vortex generators mounted on the sea floor at strategic locations
        (The watercexhausted out the top could mitigate coastal erosion) could provide the energy for small /medium communities.. The ocean never stops moving even on still days.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Other times like now wind is generating the vast majority of the state’s power. The key is to look at the yearly totals of generation by source.

    • Peter F 3 years ago
      You might notice that SA is in effect 130% renewable and power prices are negative there. If only they had some more storage perhaps a couple of big asynchronous flywheels then prices would stay positive and a couple more gas plants could have safely shut down

      • daw 3 years ago

        yea good idea – pay others to take your excess

        • Peter F 3 years ago

          Unfortunately in modern markets even in Queensland at night with effectively zero wind, prices go negative because some plants can’t ramp down fast enough as demand drops

      • Norm 3 years ago

        Just a thought🤔. Perhaps those beehive cooling towers could be utilised as thermal generators??
        A the end of the day Nicoli Tesla rediscovered the answer… Damn , no money in it!!

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      Yawn…simple things pleasing simple minds

      • daw 3 years ago

        and simpler minds make pointless comments

  20. Robert Comerford 3 years ago

    Seems the SA voters don’t want jobs and are happy with high electricity prices. No sympathy here! :>)

  21. Steve Phillips 3 years ago

    This paragraph “Liberals wants an interconnector to NSW to be built soon, Labor is happy to wait. The Liberals don’t seem to have a plan of what to do with excess wind and solar capacity” doesn’t seem to make sense. The interconector would allow you to sell excess wind and solar to other states.

    • Steve Phillips 3 years ago

      I’m not a Liberal policy supporter by the way!

      • Peter F 3 years ago

        It appears that a 500 MW interconnector to NSW would cost in the order of $1-1.2 bn, it would be used at capacity for a few dozen hours per year The generation and storage projects underway in SA which will be completed before the interconnector could be will reduce SA power imports by at least half. Thus the interconnector would probably be used less than 5% of the time for imports and possibly run at average 10% capacity or less for exports.
        Given NSW’s shortage of reserve margin anyway, the interconnector will add very little to SA energy security
        With the storage projects that have already been identified locally, SA could build about 1,000 MW of storage for the same money. Round trip losses to pumped hydro would be worse than the interconnector but round trip transmission losses to NSW would be higher than that of locally installed batteries.
        In contrast to the interconnector, all the local storage contributes to local reliability and resilience.
        In summary unless NSW remains completely clueless and doesn’t build significant new generation there is little opportunity for NSW exports to SA and a significant market for exports from SA to NSW will only exist if SA almost doubles its renewable generation

  22. neroden 3 years ago

    So, the result seems to be the Libs with a *one-vote* majority in the lower house, and with fewer Senators than Labor + Greens.

    This is an unstable government. Marshall will be forced to pursue pro-renewables policies or face a vote of no confidence; he can’t lose even *one* vote.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      I think you are right Neroden – 15MW/month going onto roofs in SA with strong incentives for that number to increase, and for the number of batteries to also continue to increase strongly. So the Northern PS has already been replaced. The 5 pumped storage FS are going ahead, and I would anticipate at least 3 to be in service by 2022, by which stage exports to Vic will dominate Heywood interconnect. Anyone trying to change the course of that momentum will be roasted.

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