Through early investment in renewable energy, South Australia has positioned itself as a leader within the renewable energy field. The state distinguishes itself from others as although there are significant reserves of fossil fuels present, their energy mix is not dependent on coal. South Australia’s energy generation is lead by natural gas, which is closely followed by wind power. The current renewable energy target in South Australia aims to increase the state’s renewable energy production to 50% by 2025 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The state has also committed to an investment target of $10 billion in low carbon generation by 20251. This transition to clean energy has already begun to take place with the closure of a number coal-fired power plants in Port Augusta. As mentioned in the previous report, state wide blackouts have occurred in South Australia resulting from too many intermittent systems coupled with a severe storm and subsequently, a heatwave. This has resulted in some scepticism towards other states in Australia transitioning toward renewable energy. Despite this scepticism, the South Australian Government has implemented a number of programs and plans to promote investment in the renewable energy sector. Although recently South Australia has received criticism, hopefully with the continued development and research into renewable energy, the state is able to overcome these problems and achieve their long-term targets.
South Australia’s current energy mix consists of a large proportion of renewable energy, especially when compared to other Australian states. The recent decline in the generation of fossil fuels has positioned South Australia as the renewable energy
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The renewable energy industry in Australia has been experiencing rapid growth recently and has been driving change in an energy system that has long been reliant on fossil fuels. However, in a nation where mining and fossil fuel production are some of the biggest and most influential industries, the renewable energy sector is faced with many challenges.
Lately, there has been a lot of political debate about Australia’s energy future, and the role that renewables should play in it, as politicians look to improve affordability and reliability of supply. The industry has experienced uncertainty about the country’s long-term energy and climate change policy direction, considering how much it has varied with the many changes in leadership over the past decade.Thankfully, there are currently policies and measures in place to ensure that renewable energy will continue to contribute to the energy mix into the future including the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, which will see electricity generation from renewables almost double in the next few years.
Australia has an excellent renewable energy resource, with the greatest potential in wind and solar. Hydropower has long been responsible for the largest share of renewable generation but now the wind and solar industries are growing rapidly. To date, onshore wind has been the leader in the new renewables sector in Australia however a promising large-scale solar industry is starting to emerge as investors and utilities look to diversify their generation portfolios.
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Washington, Hawaii and Iowa are three states that have very different landscapes, natural resources and economies. As a consequence, they all have very different energy and climate change policies and electricity generation portfolios.
Washington state already has an relatively clean generation portfolio compared to other states, thanks mostly to its enormous hydroelectric generation capacity. Washington’s energy policy is generally supporting of renewables and it is considered one of the nation’s “greenest” states, with a renewable energy target, caps on emissions from polluters and the possibility of the nation’s first carbon tax, which will lead to further growth in the wind and biomass fields especially.
Hawaii’s energy use has long been centred on costly imported fossil fuels but the state has made outstanding commitments to switch to a cleaner energy supply. Hawaii is working towards reducing the state’s reliance on energy imports and increasing the utilisation of their abundant renewable resources and it is the first state to set a legal deadline for becoming 100% renewable.
Iowa again differs to the other states studied. It has an impressive wind power industry and in 2015 over 30% of the state’s electricity generation came from wind – the highest percentage of any state. Iowa’s renewable energy targets were exceeded many years ago and have not been updated however the renewables sector continues to grow.
The unique combination of resources and economic priorities in each state has led to varying outcomes in the renewable energy sector and it will be interesting to observe how the industry changes and grows in these states. To continue to read the full USA, Washington, Hawaii, and Iowa Report as part of our Research Series “The Future is Renewable: Targets and Policies by Country”, please click “Read More”.Read More
Historically, California has always been a leader with regards to utilisation of renewable energy technologies. Stemming from concerns of fossil fuel dependence in the 1970s, soon-after began the expansion of California’s solar and wind industry. Currently, under Senate Bill 350 (SB 350) (Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015) California has set an ambitious target of increasing their renewable energy production to 50% of their total power supply by 20301. This target has been extended and adapted from the 2020 target, which was originally set under Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) (The Global Warming Solution Act of 2006). AB 32 was the first of its kind to be implemented in The United States. The bill stated that it was a requirement for California to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, in a long-term and sustainable manner. Through a variety of methods, including the successful Cap-and-Trade Program, the Renewable Portfolio Standard and other incentive-based schemes, California has managed to significantly increase their renewable energy supply.
California’s oil industry experienced its peak expansion in the 20th century. The growth in oil occurred as a result of the discovery of new oil fields and the increased demand to power automotive vehicles. However, this rapid expansion soon ended following the impact of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. This oil spill, which occurred in Southern California, was the largest of its time to have occurred in the United States3. The large spill had a major impact on marine life and resulted in a large environmental movement involving the implementation of environmental legislation.
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With vast natural resources and access to advanced energy technology the United States is in prime position to take a leading role in the renewable energy industry and in climate change mitigation. As a nation, the United States has acknowledged that they may experience many negative effects if world temperatures continue to rise, including higher risk of natural disasters and flooding as well as having to manage the relocation of possibly millions of affected people. In the past few years the United States has taken their role as a global leaders in combating climate change seriously. They are signatories of the Paris Climate agreement and have accepted the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% (from 2005 levels) by 2025.
The United States has an abundance of renewable and non-renewable resources. In 2015, renewables (including hydro power) accounted for 10% of total energy consumption and renewable energy’s share of electricity generation has been increasing over time. Traditionally the United States has relied on coal fired power plants to contribute the largest portion for electricity generation but its share has been steadily decreasing. By 2015 the portion of electricity generation from coal decreased so much that it was matched by electricity generated from natural gas, each generating 33% of the nation’s electricity. The natural gas industry has certainly expanded rapidly in the past few years however the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that this growth in gas sector has actually been exceeded recently by growth in wind and solar. More than 50% of new installed capacity for the grid in 2016 came from renewable energy , indicating how big the industry is becoming in the nation.
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