The Clean Energy Council is calling for energy market reform to be accelerated and for renewable energy to be at the centre of market design and reform initiatives, following comments about South Australia’s energy system reported in the media this week.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said Australia needed a proactive approach to reforming and evolving our energy markets to take full advantage of the inevitable increases in renewable energy use in the 21st Century.

“South Australia is leading the world in the uptake of new renewable energy technology and now generates about 40 per cent of its electricity from technology such as solar and wind. Even with the state’s remaining coal-fired power generator shutting down next year, the independent electricity market operator says the system will remain secure and will meet its reliability standards – meaning at least 99.98 per cent of power demand will be served,” Mr Thornton said.   

“Given the massive engineering and innovation capability in Australia, there are many options available to ensure a stable and strengthened energy system that can support more renewable energy and the exciting growth of battery storage. Leadership in energy market reform is essential to create the incentives for these solutions.

“Policymakers and regulators have universally underestimated the rollout of renewable energy to date. South Australia has shown that renewable energy can be deployed faster and at lower cost than expected, delivering a massive economic boost to the state. With ongoing cost reductions and new battery storage technologies, the pace of change will only continue to accelerate.

“While the transition has been happening for some time, it is becoming increasingly apparent that policymakers, regulators and market operators need to take a more strategic approach to prepare for the changes in our electricity system that will be needed,” he said.

Mr Thornton said 13.5 per cent of the electricity Australia used in 2014 was generated by renewable energy, and the South Australian example showed there was huge scope to increase the use of clean energy in the rest of the country out to 2020 and beyond.

“South Australia has turned some of the best renewable energy resources in the world into a major business opportunity, attracting about $6 billion worth of investment and creating thousands of jobs.”

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.