South Australia paves the path to 100 per cent renewables

South Australia has set its sights on reaching its target of 100 per cent renewables in the next 10 years, with aims to provide generated power to New South Wales. This will offset the shutdown of coal plants.

Through a significant backing, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) gave the approval for the gameplan, also giving the green light to a transmission link that will connect the two states.

Recently, the AER said yes to tests for a $1.5 billion project – known as EnergyConnect – which will see the line between Robertstown in SA and Wagga Wagga in NSW team together. The development is lead by ElectraNet and TransGrid – two well-known network giants.

Why is a link between SA and NSW needed?

Labelled as a crucial milestone for the industry, the project has also been heralded by the state’s government as a “foundation piece” towards 100 per cent renewable objectives.

The link is vital for the creation of more than 5,000MW of solar, wind and storage plants all across SA and in south-west NSW.

This includes Neoen’s Goyder project, which combines solar, wind and storage in innovative development. Alongside the project is Susan River – a site that has solar and battery storage joining forces for a development run by Alinta Energy.

With the Liberal State Government looking to reach net 100 per cent renewables by around 2030, experts are expecting to reach this goal before the deadline. States like NSW will act as an exporter of energy wit ha number of projects in the pipeline to support the transmission line.

SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the project will open important new opportunities for the sector across both states.

“This project will unlock huge new renewable energy zones in South Australia and NSW with AEMO reporting there are more than 5,000MW of planned renewable energy projects in close proximity to the interconnector,” he said.

He added that SA is committed to demonstrating its goals in renewables, especially as it looks to become a net exporter.

Integral to AEMO’s Integrated System Plan, the link includes a 20-year plan for the national grid, which will reach 70 to 90 per cent renewables by at least 2041 or 2042. The link also means that SA – which currently has more than 50 per cent in both solar and wind – will become a part of a loop for the grid, rather than sitting at the end of the network.

This will help the state become far more resilient to pressure and “external shocks”, reported van Holst Pellekaan. As climate change continues to become a burden on Australia’s landscape and markets – as well as extreme weather conditions – this will only increase in priority as time goes on.