How the South Australian government is supporting renewables & energy storage

South Australia is one of the most progressive states in the country when it comes to renewable energy. Roughly 30% of the homes in the state already have solar PV systems installed on their roofs, and the City of Adelaide’s battery storage rebate program – the first of its kind in the country – is funded in part by the state government.

We recently had the chance to ask the SA Department of Environment about some of the state’s programs for forwarding renewable energy progress – including programs that directly or indirectly support uptake of battery storage. 

Q: Adelaide City Council has one of the most forward-thinking battery storage incentive programs in Australia, offering individual households a subsidy of up to $5,000 to install batteries. We learned last year that the South Australian Government is matching the funding that the Council is putting towards this program. To what extent is the State government involved in the program, and what is their motivation for supporting it?

The Sustainable City Incentives Scheme was launched by the Adelaide City Council in June 2015 and provides incentive payments to businesses and households that install energy storage and efficiency solutions. In July 2015, Minister for Climate Change Ian Hunter announced that the SA Government was boosting funding to the scheme, enabling Adelaide City Council to double the scheme’s funding in 2015-16 to extend the program’s reach to more city businesses and households. The commitment effectively doubles the cash received by approved applicants, increasing the opportunity for more people in the Adelaide city area to invest in technologies that reduce carbon emissions and energy use.

The support provided by the SA Government to the scheme was an early action contributing to making the City of Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city.

Since this time, the Adelaide City Council and Government of South Australia have established a  between a city and a state and the two parties are working together to achieve carbon neutrality whilst driving economic opportunities and job creation.

The Government of South Australia and Adelaide City Council have signed parallel international agreements on climate change – the Compact of States and Regions and the Compact of Mayors – and have formally endorsed their mutual aspiration to establish Adelaide as the world’s first carbon neutral city via a Sector Agreement under South Australia’s climate change legislation.

Q: Are there any intentions or plans for the SA government to implement a state-wide roll-out of a program similar to Adelaide City Council’s?

There are no current plans to implement a statewide roll out of a similar program at present.

The SA Government’s support of the Sustainable City Incentive Scheme is part of the shared vision of the SA Government and Adelaide City Council to make the City of Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city.

The SA Government is also progressing the development of a building upgrade finance mechanism to help building owners access loans for energy, water and environmental efficiency for existing commercial buildings.  The enabling legislation passed through Parliament in December 2015 and further work is currently being undertaken to finalise the legislative and operational frameworks.  The mechanism supports the Carbon Neutral Adelaide sector agreement between the Adelaide City Council and the South Australian Government, and a climate change sector agreement with the Local Government Association of South Australia.

Previously, the SA Government offered a range of statewide measures, including the solar feed-in scheme, water rebates and providing energy efficiency programs for industry, such as the Building Innovation Fund. Information about the current range of services and grants available to help businesses become more sustainable is available here.

Q: What, if any, is the broader vision for distributed solar+storage to SA’s energy mix, and what other programs are in place to support the uptake of these technologies?

South Australia has earnt an international profile for its early focus on our low carbon strengths, which has provided a platform for a broad portfolio of complementary and cost competitive technologies and innovations.

The SA Government released its Low Carbon Investment Plan in December 2015, which sets out how the state will achieve $10 billion in low carbon generation by 2025 and 50 per cent of its electricity production from renewable energy by 2025. This goal is already well on the way to being achieved.

The foundation of the SA Government’s approach, for a clear policy and efficient regulatory environment; information to inform investment; sponsoring uptake and wider market deployment and facilitation of projects to leverage funding and support, has already seen a $6.6 billion investment in renewable energy of which 40 per cent has been realised in the State’s regions.

With pre-existing high levels of renewable energy, South Australia is well placed to support deployment of energy storage technologies. For example, AGL, ElectraNet and WorleyParsons are jointly undertaking an Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration project, part funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), to explore the role of grid-scale battery storage in South Australia.

Other initiatives underway or being investigated by the SA Government include:

  • supporting a mobile energy storage testing facility by the University of Adelaide, in partnership with SA Power Networks and several local providers for battery technology and integration, to performance-test systems integrated with energy infrastructure.
  • assessing the opportunity to showcase emerging battery storage on its own buildings in the Adelaide CBD area
  • progressing legislation for building upgrade finance to allow building owners to access loans for energy, water and environmental efficiency for existing commercial buildings
  • inviting interested parties to respond to an Expression of Interest for provision of low carbon electricity supply and services to meet up to 100 per cent of the SA Government’s electricity needs
  • investigating an opportunity for a high penetration renewable energy and battery storage power plant integrated with diesel for Marree, as a benchmark project for an off-grid community in South Australia’s far north
  • contributing toward an innovative 50 kilowatt dual axis PV solar tracking system on Kangaroo Island with electric vehicles and a six station charging network (powered by solar at the airport and council offices, which is creating a significant point of interest for the island’s eco-tourism credentials)
  • support for a hybrid-electric car share project provided by Australia’s largest car share company GoGet, which comprises a charging station coupled on-site with a 10kW solar PV installation and battery storage facility.

Details are available in South Australia’s Low Carbon Investment Plan.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd


  1. Would appear the State Gov and the Adelaide City Council are “in bed”, looking after their mates again. What a joke most people who live in the CBD haven’t even got the roof space for solar panels, let alone the space for battery installation. The boys and girls are once again feathering their own nests at the expense of the tax payers.

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