Australian Capital Territory to soon switch to 100% renewable power

Wind turbines. Photo by: City of Melbourne (http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au).

September 18 (Renewables Now) - The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is to soon source the equivalent of 100% of its consumption from renewables well ahead of 2020 once the agreement to purchase the power from Stage 3 of the 315-MW Hornsdale wind farm comes into force this October.

According to a research paper published by The Australia Institute today, the ACT will become Australia’s first state or territory to fully transition to a 100% renewable electricity supply and the eighth sub-national jurisdiction in the world. Three territories in Germany, three in Austria and one in Spain, have so far achieved this feat.

The ACT government bumped its 2020 target to 100% three years ago after previously setting it at 90%. To reach it, the government secured the capacity in the so-called reverse auctions, in which bidders offer to supply renewable power at the lowest price, using chiefly the contract-for difference (CfD) model as an instrument for procurement.

Landlocked from all sides by the state of New South Wales and housing only the Australian capital of Canberra and its surroundings, the ACT had to procure renewable power generated mostly from outside its jurisdiction. However, this electricity is fed directly into the National Electricity Market (NEM) as a whole, and, at times, the ACT has received a supply from fossil-fuel generators, The Australia Institute research states. Since the ACT procures renewable generation that is equal to 100% of its consumption, its 100% target should be viewed as a net target.

The Australia Institute acknowledged the difficulties in tracking and comparing sub-national jurisdictions and their achievement of 100% targets. To place the ACT eighth in the world, the researchers used several selection criteria, including that a jurisdiction has to be a contiguous territory with a population above 100,000. The territory also must make an effort to switch to 100% renewable electricity and 100% net consumption, which excludes areas that have traditionally relied on hydropower or geothermal power, such as Ethiopia and Iceland, due to their abundance.

The list of territories to which the ACT will join is provided in the table below:

Jurisdiction: Year: Population (in million):
Rhein-Hunsrueck, Germany 2012 0.1
Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, Germany 2013 1.6
Extremadura, Spain 2013 1.1
Burgenland, Austria 2013 0.3
Carinthia, Austria 2013 0.6
Schleswig-Holstein, Germany 2015 2.9
Lower Austria, Austria 2015 1.6
ACT, Australia January 1, 2020 0.4


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Sladjana has significant experience as a Spain-focused business news reporter and is now diving deeper into the global renewable energy industry. She is the person to seek if you need information about Latin American renewables and the Spanish market.

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