A decade ago, the skyline of Port Augusta, a town in South Australia, was dominated by a towering chimney spewing out fumes from a coal-fired power station. Today, that chimney is nowhere to be seen, and the air is crystal clear. In its place, a striking tower adorned with a radiant light stands tall, harnessing the power of the sun through 23,000 mirrors to cultivate tomatoes in four sprawling greenhouses. Next to it, a renewable energy park proudly displays 50 wind turbines and 250,000 solar panels.
Port Augusta is just one example of the astonishing clean energy revolution sweeping South Australia. In 2007, a mere 1% of the state’s electricity was generated from solar and wind sources. Fast forward to today, and that number has soared to an impressive 73% – the highest proportion among major power grids worldwide. On exceptionally sunny and windy days, the state is able to operate on 100% renewable energy. In fact, this milestone was achieved on 180 days in 2021 and even sustained for a remarkable 10 consecutive days in December 2022. Now, the region is focused on the ambitious goal of transitioning to year-round renewable-only power.
As an observer from neighboring New South Wales, where renewables account for just 31% of electricity generation, I can’t help but feel envy towards South Australia’s clean energy accomplishments. Beyond serving as a source of admiration, this transformation holds valuable lessons for the rest of the world. It showcases the enormous potential of solar and wind energy, proving that with the right investments and policies, a sustainable future is within reach.
Q: How much of South Australia’s electricity comes from solar and wind energy?
A: Currently, 73% of South Australia’s electricity is generated from solar and wind sources, making it the highest proportion among major grid systems globally.
Q: Can South Australia power itself with 100% renewables?
A: On sunny and windy days, South Australia is able to sustain itself on 100% renewable energy. In 2021, this was achieved on 180 days, including a record-breaking 10-day consecutive stretch in December 2022.
Q: What is the goal for South Australia’s renewable energy transition?
A: The goal for South Australia is to transition to year-round renewable-only power, further reducing reliance on fossil fuels and achieving a fully sustainable energy system.