South Australia (SA) has reaffirmed its leadership in a move to a low carbon economy, announcing an ambitious 33% renewable electricity target for 2020.  The target is matched with a A$20m Renewable Energy Fund to encourage investments and uptake, booting the renewable energy sector.

This builds upon the federal target, which saw the Rudd government asking each state to reach 20% of renewable electricity generation by 2020.  Mike Rann, Premier of SA and Minister for Climate Change & Economic Development, added that

“We had a much more ambitious target in South Australia to reach that 20% by 2014. We are going to reach our target ahead of our 2014 deadline, and years ahead of the national deadline.

“So we’re now announcing an even tougher target of 33 per cent by 2020 which will keep us at the forefront internationally of jurisdictions supporting renewable energy.”

 

According to Rann, South Australia is home to 56% of the nation’s wind power, 90% of its geothermal investment and nearly 30% of its grid-connected domestic solar systems – by far the highest in Australia. The first project to be funded from the Renewable Energy Fund will be the South Australian Centre of Excellence for Geothermal Research at the University of Adelaide, which will receive A$1.6m over two years.

If the 33% target is met, South Australia will not only be a global leader, but will also produce 3 times as much energy as it consumes, potentially exporting clean energy to Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Whilst Premier Mike Rann is hoping that other states may follow this admirable lead, the details of a federal target will shed more light on what this might mean for other states. Barry Brook highlights that SA may burden most of the nation’s load if it is agreed that a national target can be achieved across any state. However, if each state is assigned an individual target or quota, SA’s leadership position will triumph, strengthening a new industry, which promotes economic development and creates green jobs in difficult economic times.

The news comes just days after Rudd’s announcement that Australia is the only developed nation in the world that is not in a recession; and SA is one of the benefitting states.  A strong focus on sustainable development, renewable energy and alternative fuels has sparked a successful economic development story amongst countless doom and gloom reports of budget cuts and set backs in the face of the global financial crisis. In a recent TV interview, Lord Stern stressed the need for stronger leadership from Australia on the climate change agenda in the run up to Copenhagen – whether the federal government will strengthen its position on climate change remains to be seen, but for now, South Australia is leading the way.

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