Leaders in South Australia’s energy sector have come together for a summit that will help determine the state’s future in sustainable energy.
Former Clean Energy Finance Corporation boss Oliver Yates, Nick Xenophon, South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis spoke at the conference with representatives from leading renewable energy companies Zen Energy, Solar Reserve, DP Energy, Redback Technologies, Solar Analytics and AES Energy Storage in attendance.
The summit comes as the Climate Council released a new report on Thursday — Critical Decade 2017: Accelerating Climate Action — that claims Australia is failing to tackle climate change as pollution levels continue to rise.
“South Australia is a long way ahead of the game on smart energy. Half of South Australia’s electricity comes from wind and solar, thirty-two percent of households have solar panels and there is $8.4 billion investment in the pipeline,” chief executive of the Australian Solar Council John Grimes said.
“Most people know South Australia is leading the large-scale renewable energy transition and has the Tesla big battery under construction.
“South Australia also has the highest penetration of rooftop solar and a booming industry manufacturing, supplying and maintaining renewable energy technologies.”
South Australia already has some of the lowest wholesale power prices as a result of increased gas generation and energy experts said that the state will have the cheapest power prices in the country in as little as six months.
But those cheaper prices are not yet being reflected in household bills where rates are set periodically.
"If it's not [cheaper] then the question is, why are the big power companies gouging the people," Grimes said.
The investors, companies and key industry players who attended the summit planned South Australia’s energy future by discussing a range of topics, like teaching South Australian householders to sell solar power back to the grid, and how companies can halve industry power bills at the Whyalla steelworks with 1 gigawatt of dispatchable renewables on-site.
“Renewable energy is now hands down the cheapest source of power,” Grimes said.
“South Australian power prices were lower in the first four months of 2017-18 than the coal dependent states. International investors are attracted by the leadership South Australia is showing securing its own energy future.
“Householders and businesses are installing smart energy to save on their power bills. Local supply and demand for locally generated energy creates new business models and new opportunities.
There are more than 4,510 jobs on proposed project in South Australia’s smart energy pipeline.
"The job creation potential is incredibly exciting and South Australia has the expertise to lead the energy transition nationally.”