When this is published SA voters will be lining up to select a new government. That is the hope. I understand the betting market favours a hung parliament. No pundit I’ve heard is willing to pick a winner. Kevin Bonham talks about the difficulty of modelling the outcome, with the entry of SA Best and the redistribution. The ABC has guidance on how we can follow the election and an Online Election Page.
On climate change the election matters. There is coverage at:
- Ronald Brakells at Solar Quotes The SA Election: Energy Policies Compared
- Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy South Australia’s renewable energy future hanging by a thread
The headline policy of the Labor Weatherill government is 75% renewables and 25% storage by 2025, world class and by far the most ambitious among the larger Australian states. The Liberals say they will dump the state targets in favour of the National Energy Guarantee targets.
In the AFR Federal minister Josh Frydenberg labelled the policy as a “thought bubble” and:
- “He is a problem gambler doubling down to chase his losses,” Mr Frydenberg said. “Unfortunately South Australia has the least reliable grid”.
Giles Parkinson has taken a look at Five myths about South Australia’s renewable energy. One is The high penetration of renewables means South Australia has the most unreliable grid.
South Australia has had no major outages this year. A FactCheck at The Conversation found the 97% of outages were caused by things like trees falling on power lines and are unrelated to the source of electricity, renewable or otherwise, flowing through the power lines.
Parkinson also looked at the myth that Labor’s 75 per cent renewable energy target is “reckless”.
Australian Energy Market Operator produced an analysis in December that suggested South Australia could reach 73 per cent renewable energy by 202/21 and up to 80 per cent five years later. Frydenberg either doesn’t read reports that are inconvenient to his ideological line, or, more likely, is being knowingly misleading.
- And AEMO is confident that continued innovation – like the big battery and other storage – will ensure reliability and stability of the grid.
There’s been an argument about SA’s high prices. Labor says that more renewables and less gas will reduce household electricity bills by $300 a year. The Liberals got a wrap over the knuckles for being misleading about a promise that their policies would provide $300 relief. The SA Electoral Commission found that most of that was already built in to the status quo.
I must applaud SA for having an Electoral Commission with powers to hold politicians to account on their promises. What a civilised idea!
Brakels says that in the past year:
- had the world’s largest battery storage facility built,
- acquired a state owned power plant,
- has approved the construction of the world’s largest single tower solar thermal power station [Aurora] 30 km north of Port Augusta,
- has announced plans to build the world’s largest virtual power station using rooftop solar and home battery storage.
Here’s an artist impression of Aurora:
And more. For example, plans have been announced for German firm Sonnen to establish a battery factory in SA.
The Liberals policy is all over the shop, lacking internal consistency. From Brackels:
- They 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 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.
The SA Liberals main differences from Labor are:
- The establishment of a $200 million dollar fund for an interconnector with NSW. Although they don’t say this, the real cost of the interconnector would be $500 million to $1 billion with NSW presumably paying half that.
- A massive $100 million subsidy for home batteries of around $2,500 per household. So apparently they are in favor of free market solutions but not when it comes to home batteries.
- A $50 million grid storage fund. Will someone please tell them that subsidizing energy storage like this is not free market?
Unsurprisingly, business would like to see Weatherill re-elected, because they know what they’ll get and appear to like it.
There are some queries about Labor’s plans to boost exploration for gas, which would probably end up being exported. I don’t think we can be building new gas at this stage without expecting it to become a stranded asset, if perchance the world properly addresses the climate change threat.
Of interest, both SA Best and The Greens want to establish a public retailer, which, on figures around the country, could peel off around 20% or more of electricity bills.
SA Best may be in a position to force implementation of this policy. I suspect Greens policies are of academic interest, as they are not expected to win seats in the lower house.
Labor has had four terms in office, keeping the inept Liberals in opposition for 16 years. A fifth term would be something of a miracle, but Weatherill is probably the best politician we have at national or state level in terms of climate change action.