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South Australia supports renewable energy in the state

The state government of South Australia has made two announcements to promote the use of renewable energy.

Solar panels will be mandatory for all new and substantially refurbished government buildings, starting in July of 2010, says premier Mike Rann. He made the announcement during the climate conference in Copenhagen, where he chaired an international States and Regions Alliance Climate Leaders Summit.

“We have increased South Australia’s target for renewable energy generation to 33% by 2020, higher than the national target; that puts us in a world leading position on renewable energy targets along with California,” he said. “This decision means that government owned and operated residential buildings will have a minimum of 1.5 kW of solar panels installed, while all other new government buildings will have a minimum of 5 kW.”

“South Australia continues to lead the nation in grid-connected domestic solar systems and this is the next step in the government’s long-term strategy to promote and support solar panel use in South Australia,” he explained.

“We were the first to introduce solar feed-in laws and have the largest solar array in Australia at the Wayville Showgrounds,” he said. “We have committed to meeting 50% of the government’s own electricity needs from green power by 2014; it is already 20% and this move will further support the renewable energy industry. It is yet another measure to provide economic stimulus and green jobs growth.”

Rann also announced that his state government would attract more investment in renewable energy by providing a rebate of payroll tax paid for labour associated with direct on-site construction of new renewable energy projects, also starting in July. The rebate will have a maximum of Aus$5 million per project for solar and Aus$1m per project for wind. It will apply for fours years to June 2014 and will be reviewed after its first two years of operation.

To be eligible as large-scale, the project must have a nameplate rating at a single connection point of at least 30 MW and have started the construction phase after July 2010. The incentive will benefit utility-scale solar, which is some seven times more construction labour intensive than wind.

“I expect the effect of this rebate will be to provide a payroll tax holiday for most, if not all, all new wind farms over the four year period,” he said. “It will also provide significant relief for investors in large-scale solar energy projects.”

“South Australia is already a national and international leader in attracting investment in renewable energy,” he claimed. “We have almost half of Australia’s wind power, 90% of its geothermal investment and more solar rooftop installations on a per household basis than any other State. We are on track to achieve our targets of having 20% of electricity generation coming from renewables by 2014 and 33% by 2020.”

“The government recognises that these goals will not be achieved by only the attractiveness for investors of our excellent renewable energy resources alone,” he explained. “An important part of our success has been implementing regulatory regimes that provide efficient and certain processes for investors.”

“By becoming Australia’s first government to offer a payroll tax exemption for the construction of new renewable energy plant, South Australia is making itself the least costly destination for that investment,” he added.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Wind power