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SA BLACKOUT SPARKS ENERGY DEBATE

06-10-2016
by 
in 

In the political and social unease following the major power failure in South Australia, organisations representing Australia's energy industry have come forward to advocate for a cooperative and coordinated response.

In the immediate aftermath of the failures, blame was partially placed upon SA's reliance on 'intermittent' renewables, with a 40% (and increasing) share of the state's power coming from non-traditional sources.

Subsequently, an in-depth report found that the storms that hit the state were severe enough to heavily damage transmission infrastructure and knock out power, regardless of whether the power was sourced from renewables or otherwise.

In fact, the report concluded that there had been no interruption in the production baseload, and that the outage was purely a transmission problem.

Despite this, the incident brought renewables to the public attention, and the energy industry is calling for this newfound attention to be directed in a productive manner towards real and existing issues.

Australia is undergoing a major transition towards a lower carbon emissions economy and new technologies for generation, supply, storage, and use of energy. The storm and subsequent blackout in South Australia underline the vital importance of energy security, and the vulnerability of our increasingly complex electricity system to natural disasters.

Before the storm and blackout, South Australia also experienced significant energy price rises and volatility, shaped by a wide range of factors.

"While these events and challenges are distinct, a successful response in each case requires Australia's leaders to work together. Both sides of politics at the federal and state levels share responsibility for the current state of the national energy system and for developing effective solutions to it. Those solutions need to be strategic, efficient, nationally coordinated, and consistent," the companies said in a release.

"Steps intended to achieve reliable, affordable and sustainable energy will inevitably come at a cost. These costs can be minimised through careful long-term planning and cooperation between all stakeholders. Effective and enduring policy will ensure Australia can leverage significant private sector investment to deliver the necessary infrastructure."

"Our organisations will continue to participate in robust public debate over these issues. Absent of a bipartisan approach to the tightly connected issues of energy and climate change, uncertainty will cause essential energy investments to be deferred or distorted, to the ultimate cost of us all. Australia's energy ministers must work together."

The statement was signed by eight industry bodies: the Australian Energy Council, the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia, the Clean Energy Council, Energy Consumers Australia, the Energy Efficiency Council, the Energy Networks Association, and the Energy Users Association of Australia.

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