South Australia has a unique mix of renewable energy resources that is as extensive as any in the world.
Only a fraction of our renewable energy resources has been accessed and is in use, so there is significant potential for further development.
Wind power is currently the cheapest source of large-scale renewable energy. South Australia has almost 1,700 MW of installed wind farm capacity, which is 35% of Australia’s installed capacity.
South Australia has hundreds of kilometres of uninhabited and semi-inhabited coastline ideal for capturing wind resources. Our Renewable Energy Atlas identifies the best areas for wind farm development – that is, where the predicted mesoscale wind speeds are, or exceed, 7.31 m/s at 80 metres above ground level).
The Eyre Peninsula in the State’s west has four identified wind zones with speeds of more than 8 m/s and above 38% capacity. The region has the potential to support over 10,000 MW of wind generation.
With more days of sunshine than most areas of the world, South Australia has significant untapped solar energy potential.
Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent. Due to its geographic location, some of the highest readings have occurred in the north of South Australia.
For example, the irradiance levels—which refers to the radiant flux (power) received by a surface per unit area—at Roxby Downs in northern South Australia have been recorded at a world class 2,500 kWh/m2 a year, which is comparable to levels in Spain, southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East.
South Australia’s Renewable Energy Atlas offers an interactive map for investors to identify optimal land areas for potential solar developments provides information about solar resources, transmission lines and power stations.
The South Australian Government can assist with explaining the development processes and timeframes for solar project development in South Australia, from site selection to construction and operation.
Solar thermal, also called concentrated solar thermal (CST), converts solar radiation into heat. CST projects use lenses and reflectors to concentrate sunlight, which then heats a substance such as salt, water or oil to produce steam to drive a turbine.
Solar thermal electricity is typically designed for large-scale power generation.
The South Australian Government recognises the potential benefits of CST generation, especially as it can be coupled with energy storage to enable the dispatch of energy when it is needed. A new 150 MW CST project — which will be the largest of its kind in the world — has been approved for regional South Australia to support the State’s electricity supply and is due to be operational by November 2020.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) involves converting sunlight directly into electricity using photovoltaic cells. PV systems can be installed on rooftops, integrated into building designs and vehicles, or be the basis of megawatt-scale power plants.
To date, the solar PV industry in South Australia has been limited to rooftop solar PV systems with more than 800 MW of capacity installed and about one in three households hosting solar panels.
More favourable economics and the presence and location of a world-class solar resource has meant there is now a significant portfolio of utility-scale solar PV generation projects at various stages in the development pipeline.
The South Australian government recognises the opportunities in optimising PV systems by using them in conjunction with energy storage, or concentrating mirrors or lenses for large-scale centralised power. Projects are currently underway to test the benefits of combining solar PV with battery storage.
Ocean energy comes from converting the natural movement of oceanic waters, including tidal flows, waves and currents, into electricity. While technologies to generate electricity from the ocean are in the early stages of development, ocean power has great potential as an energy source. Some of the world’s most innovative companies are preparing to reap the benefits in South Australia.
A small number of ocean energy trials have taken place in South Australia. In fact, the southern coastline provides enormous capacity for ocean energy generation; CSIRO research has indicated that Australia’s southern coastline could provide more than 10% of the nation’s energy needs by 2050.
To help investors locate ideal sites, the CSIRO has developed a Wave Energy Atlas that is available as a layer on the Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure.
South Australia has enormous reserves of geothermal resources that can be used to generate heat and electricity.
Geothermal energy emerges from the earth’s centre to the layers of rock near its surface. It can be used for applications such as heating and cooling buildings, desalination, aquaculture, greenhouses, timber drying, paper manufacturing, sterilisation of equipment, and food processing. It can also be used for electricity generation.
South Australia’s geothermal energy resources are suitable for direct industrial applications, as well as significant enhanced geothermal system and hot sedimentary aquifer resources suitable for electricity production.
Advantages in developing these resources lie in their capacity to provide low emission, renewable, baseload energy, and their contribution to energy efficiency and security of supplies. The further development of a strong national renewable energy policy framework would support the geothermal industry in South Australia and across the country.