Kangaroo Island and South Australia to lead the way

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Kangaroo Island could lead the nation in the uptake of renewable energy to lessen its reliance on fossil fuels and reduce its carbon emissions.

Kangaroo Island (KI) could lead the nation in the uptake of renewable energy to lessen its reliance on fossil fuels and reduce its carbon emissions.

Stakeholder discussions undertaken to inform the development of the new regional NRM plan revealed overwhelming support for KI to source 100% of its power through renewable energy as soon as possible. There is also strong support for the island to be promoted as a suitable site for piloting new technologies and innovations, working towards becoming a ‘centre of excellence’ and showcasing a more sustainable development path. Both the Kangaroo Island Council’s strategic plan and the new NRM plan (soon to be released for public consultation) are providing an impetus for KI to move towards becoming carbon neutral.

Living on an island requires resourcefulness and innovation and KI’s vulnerable energy supply has led many residents and businesses to look at new ways of obtaining power supplies. Nuffield Scholar Sam Archer’s presentation about Denmark’s Samsø Island at the KI 2012 NRM Conference described the ways a small regional community has transformed its energy supplies while at the same time revitalising the local economy through renewable energy tourism and education. KI’s Mayor Peter Clements visited Samso Island in 2014 and gained more insight into what appear to be very distinct possibilities for advancing the use of renewable energy on KI.

The Kangaroo Island Council has been considering innovative ways to improve energy supply on the island. These include the formation of a community-owned energy company, which will initially look to aggregate both demand and generation to leverage better power prices for residents as well as to provide market access for larger scale renewable energy generation and storage projects. It will then lead to innovative edge-of-grid embedded power supply solutions for commercial developments and potentially, working in conjunction with SA Power Networks, develop remote area integrated SMART grid solutions. Combined with correct market pricing and supply and digital communications security that can be gained from an upgraded undersea power/communication cable, there is the future opportunity to leverage this to export renewable energy into the high growth Southern Fleurieu region.

This is taking place against the backdrop of a new Climate Change Strategy for South Australia, released by Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister Ian Hunter in late November 2015. South Australia’s Climate Change Strategy 2015-2050 – Towards a low carbon economy sets a framework for renewed effort and action. At the centre of the strategy is a bold and ambitious target for the state to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, one of the recommendations from an expert panel established by government to review South Australia’s current action and provide recommendations for further action. By committing to this target, South Australia aims to maximise the economic and job opportunities a low-carbon world presents. The newly released Low Carbon Investment Plan for South Australia sets out how the state will achieve $10 billion in low carbon energy generation by 2025.

The KI Council is working with the State Government and other key stakeholders to expand on the lessons learned from the implementation of its award winning Kingscote Airport Solar/EV charging network project that has been successfully operating for 18 months. The Regional Development Authority has funding to develop the concept of an electric highway focused on the use of EV’s for tourism connecting Adelaide City with the Hills, Southern Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island.

“The Kangaroo Island community continues to think outside the square by working on realistic solutions which suit the inherent issues of our remoteness and island life generally. I am pleased the work the KI Council is undertaking with the KI NRM Board in this area is providing an opportunity for Kangaroo Island and South Australia to lead the way in understanding and developing renewable energy options,” Mayor Peter Clements said.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island and the Kangaroo Island Council are also working with the ‘Resilient Hills & Coast’ initiative to develop a climate change adaptation plan for the region. A community workshop will be held in Kingscote in late February to identify strategies for inclusion in the plan. This work follows on from the Integrated Vulnerability Assessment that was conducted for Kangaroo Island in 2014. A local think-tank has also recently been established to ensure that the island derives maximum benefit from this initiative.

If you would like more information about renewable energy options go to http://www.renewablessa.sa.gov.au. For more information on climate change visit the Natural Resources Kangaroo Island website www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ki/about-us/our-regions-plan/climate-change. Further information on the Visible Solar Icon / EV Project is available on the Kangaroo Island Council website https://www.kangarooisland.sa.gov.au/e-vehicle

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