South Australian Election Guide - Solar Citizens

South Australian Renewable Energy Election Guide

On March 17, South Australians will go to the polls.

South Australia leads the world in renewable energy, but South Australians are still being ripped off by big power companies. That’s why the next state government can’t afford to rest on South Australia’s renewable energy laurels and must double down on investing in new renewable energy with storage.

Solar Citizens has surveyed and spoken to a range of parties and their leaders contesting the state election about their policies. Below we outline where the parties stand, in no particular order, on a range of key renewable energy issues.

Increasing South Australia’s Renewable Energy Target

South Australia’s Renewable Energy Target sends an important message to the community and to industry that South Australia embraces a renewable future. It’s also important that the target is backed up by targeted funding and support for key renewable and storage projects to manage the transition. The Federal Government and big power companies have constantly attacked South Australia’s existing 50% renewable target because they are worried South Australia will show the rest of the country what is possible.

Both the Greens and Labor have committed to increasing South Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.

The Greens have a 100% renewable energy target by 2025.

Labor have announced a 75% renewable energy target by 2025. Labor also announced Australia’s first storage target of 25% of South Australia’s peak demand (750MW).

SA-BEST have committed to maintaining South Australia’s existing renewable target of 50% by 2025 and are open to supporting an increased target.

The Liberals have pledged that they will scrap South Australia’s target in favour of a national target.

Invest in Renewable Energy and Storage

Backing up renewable energy targets with targeted funds to support building the right combination of renewable energy and storage is a key recommendation of Solar Citizens’ Repowering South Australia report. Making these investments brings online new technologies that will help lower costs and make South Australia less reliant on our expensive gas power stations.

Here’s what the parties have committed to:

Labor established while in government a $150 million renewable technology fund which has funded multiple projects: including, the world’s biggest virtual power plant using 50,000 household solar and battery systems, 25,000 of which are housing trust homes; grid scale battery storage; pumped hydro and renewable hydrogen. On top of the existing Renewable Technology Fund, Labor have committed to:

  • A $100 million no interest loan scheme for household solar and batteries.
  • Providing an extra $20 million to the Renewable Technology Fund to support reaching Labor’s renewable storage target.

The Greens have supported redirecting funds currently used for gas exploration into renewable energy.

The Liberals have committed to supporting existing solar households to install battery storage with a $100 million battery storage fund. A further $50 million has been pledged to support grid scale storage.

SA-Best have not made any announcement regarding the investment of government money into renewable energy and storage, but have pledged to use the establishment of a government backed non-profit retailer to underwrite a new dispatchable 150MW renewable power station with storage.

Make Sure All South Australians Can Access The Benefits of Affordable, Renewable Energy

Ensuring all South Australians benefit from the transition to renewable energy is a key issue for Solar Citizens. In our Repowering South Australia report, we outlined priority policies including:

  • A government owned, non-profit retailer for South Australians on low-incomes.
  • Working with Indigenous communities to fund and collaboratively design an Aboriginal Communities Clean Power Program
  • Growing a vibrant community energy sector through a Smart Energy Communities program.

Other important areas include targeted programs to support people who are renting access the benefits of solar.

Here’s what the parties have committed to:

The Liberals have committed to:

  • Considering proposals for community owned energy projects and exploring the viability of co-designing and funding an Aboriginal Renewables Program.

SA-Best have committed to:

  • Establish a government backed, community owned non-profit retailer for South Australians on low-incomes and small business.
  • Fund the development of community owned and led energy projects.
  • Work with Aboriginal communities to fund and collaboratively design an Aboriginal Renewables Program.
  • Provide incentives to landlords and renters to install solar pv and/or batteries, “looking at what makes most sense considering a combination of PV, energy management, energy efficiency, batteries and maybe subject to means testing”.

The Greens have committed to:

  • Establishing a publicly-owned, non-profit energy retailer which guarantees the lowest prices for low-income households.
  • Expanding the scope and amount of energy concessions to low-income households.
  • Installing solar panels and solar hot water on all suitable government buildings and tenanted public housing properties.
  • Establishing an Indigenous Communities Clean Power Program to ensure that all Aboriginal communities in South Australia have access to clean, affordable, local renewable electricity.

Labor have:

  • Funded the world’s largest virtual power plant, beginning with a roll out of solar panels and batteries to 25,000 public homes and expanding to a further 25,000 homes. Labor has committed to using the trial phase of the virtual power plant rollout to look at ways to strongly encourage uptake in the private rental market.
  • Strongly supported non-government groups participating in the virtual power plant retail tender to establish a ‘community retailer’ and have held significant meetings.
  • Established the ‘Fund My Neighbourhood’ program and strongly encourage community energy groups to apply for funding through the $20 million program’s second round of funding.

Make South Australia a Renewable Powerhouse for Australia and the World

South Australia has a major opportunity to be a renewable energy powerhouse for Australia and the world by using new technologies to export our solar and wind interstate and overseas.

Here’s what the parties have committed to:

Labor has:

  • Developed a renewable hydrogen export roadmap, including export targets
  • Funded a range of renewable hydrogen projects, including the recently announced world’s biggest hydrogen electrolyser co-located with a large wind and solar project proposed for Crystal Brook.
  • Attracted Sonnen to manufacture batteries in South Australia, who plan to export these batteries interstate and to the South-East Asia Pacific region from Adelaide.

The Liberals have committed to:

  • $200 million to build an interconnector to NSW, enabling more of South Australia’s renewable energy to be exported interstate.
  • They are also open to considering proposals for renewable hydrogen.

The Greens have committed to:

  • Setting a renewable export target of a further 50% of our electricity needs by 2030.
  • Establishing a renewable hydrogen export industry.
  • Building a state owned interconnector to NSW to enable more of South Australia’s renewable energy to be exported interstate.

SA-Best has:

  • Supporting research and development into renewable hydrogen.

You can read the full responses of Labor, Liberal, the Greens and SA-Best to Solar Citizens and other NGOs on energy and a range of other issues, here.