Monday, 28 August 2023

Energy Transition Conference

I am delighted to be here on behalf of the South Australian government today, amongst many of Malaysia’s leaders and leading minds in energy transition.

I thank Tenaga Nasional for their organisation of this conference, along with conference partners.

Recognising that energy transition is a global priority to which we will all need to contribute solutions, I’d like to share with you some of South Australia’s experiences.

As Governor of South Australia, I am proud of the work our state has done to be at the forefront of Australia’s energy transition efforts through renewables and decarbonisation.

South Australia’s actions are driven by what I’m confident is a shared sentiment for all in this room: an acknowledgement of the grave seriousness of the climate crisis, and the recognition that accelerating change is now imperative.

In May of 2022 the South Australian parliament passed a climate emergency motion, through which we became the first state in Australia to declare a climate emergency.

For a long time, South Australia was almost entirely reliant on coal and gas.

For almost two decades now, however, we have been at the forefront of the global energy transition, and building our reputation along the way.

During this period, the state’s energy mix has grown from 1 per cent renewable generation to about 70 per cent renewable energy – a remarkable transformation.

In 2021, South Australia was able to meet one hundred per cent of its energy demand through renewables on180 days of the year.

This achievement required significant investment by companies in wind and large-scale solar farms as well as personal investment by households in rooftop PV solar.

Economies are seeking to respond to the climate emergency and reduce their carbon footprint, to meet their own targets and international obligations.

South Australia is looking to share our experience and become a reliable partner in the energy transformation that is underway around the world, and here in Southeast Asia.

I concur with the ideal of this conference that digitalisation is an enabler in accelerating the energy transition. I’ve seen it firsthand in South Australia where the community has embraced new technologies such as rooftop solar, batteries, electric vehicles, smart meters, and smart appliances.

South Australia has three large-scale solar wind farms, and a solar thermal project in the pipeline. These large-scale wind farms alone generate over 40 per cent of the state’s electricity, with further projects under development.

South Australia’s transition has not been without challenges. The nation’s electricity grid has had to manage voltage and frequency issues, and develop new tools to improve demand management.

We have an abundance of coincident wind and solar resources, but as these sources of energy expanded their share of the energy mix, concerns regarding intermittency came to the forefront.

To overcome this, South Australia has turned to grid-scale battery storage to provide frequency control and other ancillary services that assist in firming up the large share of renewable energy available in the marketplace.

Firming services have been vital in South Australia’s energy transition, as they enable renewable energy generators to provide energy certainty to the market.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve was, at the time of its installation in 2017, the largest battery of its kind in the world. And while its creation was the result of a bet between the former Premier of South Australia, and Elon Musk, its results have proven to be highly beneficial to the state.

Within the first two years of operation, the Hornsdale Power Reserve saved South Australian consumers over $150 million, confirming the benefits associated with grid-scale batteries, and becoming an exemplar of what can be achieved through battery storage systems integrated into grid networks.

Our rooftop solar and home batteries have come together to create virtual power plants linked by smart technology, providing coordinated generation into the marketplace and, ultimately, lower prices for energy users.

South Australia’s next big step is to add hydrogen into the energy mix.

During most days in South Australia, when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, even with the ability to export energy across the borders, more electricity is generated than the existing demand.

While this had previously been regarded as an environmental quirk, it is now proving to be a super power for our state in the energy transition.

South Australia has great capacity to generate energy well beyond its demand. In fact, the South Australian Government Climate Change Action Plan could achieve a level of renewable energy generation that is more than 500 per cent of current local grid demand.

Hydrogen production provides an opportunity to harness surplus renewable energy generation into a portable and storable fuel source.

Enabled by our world leading renewable energy transformation, South Australia is driving a reindustrialisation of our economy, with the development of a hydrogen industry at its centre.

South Australia has long been a state of firsts, and the same philosophy is driving our ambition to be an early mover.

As is the case with grid-scale batteries, hydrogen fuelled power stations will be able to work with renewable energy providers to keep the grid stable through times of unreliable renewable intermittency.

This drive towards a burgeoning hydrogen sector is set to be accelerated by the state’s Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill, expected to be introduced to parliament this year.

This legislation, acknowledging the enormity of the shift towards large-scale renewable energy and hydrogen, aims to introduce a ‘one window to government’ licensing and regulatory system for the lifecycle of renewable energy and hydrogen projects in South Australia.

Once passed, it will ensure a dedicated planning pathway that increases transparency and proponent certainty, whilst the appropriate controls are retained.

It will also ensure that the regulation of projects meets the expectations of communities, respects Native Title, and delivers social and environmental benefits in line with leading environment, social and governance requirements.

South Australia is eager to share our experience as a world leader in renewable energy generation with our partners.

The foundations for stronger partnership are already laid. Malaysia is one of South Australia’s largest two-way trade partners, with imports and exports rising to over one billion dollars each way in the year to June 2023.

South Australia deeply values the relationship we have developed with Malaysia over a long period of time.

Fifty years ago this December, George Town and Adelaide forged a sister city relationship that continues to foster business, sporting, cultural, and tourism opportunities between South Australia and Penang.

Since 1973, both Australia and Malaysia have understood the role of interpersonal connections in growing and enhancing our ties.

Ambitions for our energy transition provide a new and exciting opportunity for us to continue to develop those ties for the mutual benefit of our two nations.

As our hydrogen economy grows, South Australia will become a key player in the exporting of renewable energy.

This will allow South Australia to contribute vital resources to our region and beyond, ensuring that our partners are well equipped to respond to the climate emergency and meet their own international obligations to decarbonise their economies.

Since the current Government of South Australia came to office, more than half a billion dollars has been committed to the implementation of the Hydrogen Jobs Plan which will enable our state to be a world leader and major world supplier.

A 250MWe electrolyser, a 200MW hydrogen-fuelled power plant and hydrogen storage facility are to be operational by December 2025.

South Australia recognises that to achieve our commitment of becoming a net zero emission economy by 2050, our state will need strategic thinking and economy-wide planning that goes beyond energy generation to all aspects of emission reduction.

The South Australian Government has embarked on a consultative process to develop a comprehensive energy transition policy for the next three decades.

Along with the transformation of our energy generation, the South Australian Government is looking towards a reindustrialisation that embraces low emission technologies and to the emergence of a transport fleet increasingly dominated by electric vehicles.

To encourage electric vehicle ownership, we are supporting the roll out of a network of charging stations from border-to-border that will address the ‘range anxiety’ of those who would have otherwise already made the switch to an electric vehicle.

I am pleased to report that as Governor I have changed our modest car fleet to one hybrid and one fully electric vehicle.

South Australia is also looking to use smart technology to harness the energy storage potential of all those tens of thousands, potentially millions of vehicle batteries plugged in at home or in car parks.

Just two weeks ago, consultation closed on South Australia’s Green Paper, and feedback will inform a comprehensive Energy Transition Plan that will be released in 2024.

It will be a long-term, far-sighted plan that will align with the state’s Emission Reduction Program and support the nation in meeting its COP21 climate commitments.

We want to capitalise on the global energy transition by using South Australia’s internationally recognised sustainability credentials to provide low carbon, renewable energy products, technologies, and services to the world.

We are looking to partners such as our friends in Southeast Asia, where there is great opportunity for us to share our expertise, knowledge, and experiences and learn from theirs to the betterment of all our energy transitions.

The climate crisis is a global problem, not one that can be fixed by any one individual nation. With this in mind, South Australia aims to be a partner of choice in our insecure world, attracting international investment that will allow our industries to move our exports up the value chain.

South Australia will build its talent by training and upskilling our own people, while also welcoming expertise from our partner countries to build a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy.

Like our many partners in this region, South Australia is committed to innovation, entrepreneurship, and building fruitful long-term partnerships.

South Australia looks forward to future cooperation on these issues and invites collaboration. Investment in renewable energy sources and the reliable supply of green hydrogen from a trusted partner will ensure increased security throughout Asia in the years ahead.

Thank you for inviting me to today’s conference and providing some insight into the South Australian experience.

I also extend an invitation for you to visit South Australia in April next year, when Adelaide will host the Australia 2024 International Renewable Energy Conference.

I encourage everyone to come and see for themselves what we are working on in South Australia and how we may embark on a shared journey to a cleaner environment and a safer world.

Coming events