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Len Rosen's picture
Principal Author and Editor, 21st Century Tech Blog

Futurist, Writer and Researcher, now retired, former freelance writer for new technology ventures. Former President & CEO of Len Rosen Marketing Inc., a marketing consulting firm focused on...

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  • Dec 1, 2021

South Australia has seen wind and solar increasingly contribute to its total energy supply. In the last year, 62% of energy demand came from these two renewable sources. The state’s target is to achieve 100% reliance on renewables by 2030, although that timetable appears to be accelerating with the milestone being achieved as early as 2025.

South Australia's success in combatting climate change is countered by national climate policies that are weak to non-existent.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 2, 2021

Len, since there seems to be no end to the hype coming out of South Australia these days, let's take a look at why little about SA is applicable to anywhere else in the world:

  1. Except for coastal areas, SA is a desert (less than 5 in. rainfall/yr) with winds that blow all day long. Sun and wind like nowhere else on Earth.
  2. The state has a total population of 1.7 million. That's two one-hundredths of one percent of global inhabitants.
  3. The average residential price of electricity is 27¢/kWh (US) - thirteenth highest in the world.
  4. Australia is #2 in the world in per-capita wealth (first is Luxembourg).
  5. Much of that wealth is derived from exports of coal ($53B/yr ).

"In a world racing to reduce pollution, Australia is a stark outlier.

It is one of the dirtiest countries per head of population and a massive global supplier of fossil fuels. Unusually for a rich nation, it also still burns coal for most of its electricity.

Australia's 2030 emissions target - a 26% cut on 2005 levels - is half the US and UK benchmarks.

Canberra has also resisted joining the two-thirds of countries who have pledged net zero emissions by 2050. And instead of phasing out coal - the worst fossil fuel - it's committed to digging for more. So it's no surprise that Australia is being viewed as a "bad guy" going into the COP26 global climate talks in Glasgow, analysts say."

Why Australia refuses to give up coal

SA is not an example. It's a state where residents, enriched by sales of coal, seek redemption for their environmental crimes by building an expensive, boutique electricity grid.

Len Rosen's picture
Len Rosen on Dec 7, 2021

Hi Bob, I agree with you on one of your points, that Australia's federal government is a laggard about addressing global warming as it continues to promote coal for export. But it is important to understand the constitutional division of responsibilities in that nation where there are similar characteristics to Canada. The state of South Australia governs energy within its boundaries. It doesn't set national policy. And South Australia is running ahead of other Australian jurisdictions in taking advantage of its environment to maximize renewable energy growth. Kudos to them, but certainly not to the nation of Australia which has through the current federal and past federal leadership turned a blind eye to climate change. Australia's Climate Council was formed by Ministry of Environment scientists and policy wonks after the federal government trashed that department. The Climate Council has branched out into hundreds of towns and cities across Australia with initiatives that include deployment of rooftop solar more extensively than in any other country on Earth. And I know you are going to say, but they get all that Sun. So do other countries with hot, dry, sunny climates. But right now you cannot deny that South Australia is doing something right even if the nation is not. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 7, 2021

Understood, Len, and it's wonderful that at least .02% of the people on Earth live in an area with the abundant natural and financial resources to power their electricity grid with the sun and the wind.

I stand by my contention that SA offers no example for the rest of the world to follow, however. And I'll add that SA's contribution pales by comparison to the contribution made by safe, carbon-free Canadian nuclear plants, every hour of the day, every day of the year (notwithstanding Canada's support for razing Albertan forests for the tar sands underneath).

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Thank Len for the Post!
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