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Australia’s Prime Minister has lashed out at state governments for their “extremely unrealistic” renewable energy targets. Speaking at a news conference in Tasmania, Malcom Turnbull blamed these targets for Wednesday’s blackout across South Australia, even though he conceded that the immediate cause of the blackout were adverse weather conditions that destroyed portions of the power transmission infrastructure in the region. The blackout left 1.7 million people in the dark.
Turnbull went on to caution against the overreliance on wind power in South Australia, saying this kind of power is intermittent, which places a major strain on the grid. The PM then said energy security should always trump renewable targets and proceeded to blame the Labor governments of South Australia, Queensland, and Victoria for setting “extremely aggressive” and “extremely unrealistic” renewable energy targets, ignoring the issue of energy security.
In response to the PM’s remarks, Victoria’s PM Daniel Andrew compared Turnbull to former PM Tony Abbott – a staunch opponent of renewable energy – and accused him of “[…]peddling completely ill-informed rubbish about how we generate our energy.”
In his speech, Turnbull also said he will be discussing a revision of state renewable energy targets with state PMs soon, with the goal of setting national targets, rather than state-specific ones, making them more realistic.
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To illustrate, Turnbull said that Queensland has a renewable energy target of 50 percent while currently the share of renewables in the state’s energy mix is just 4.5 percent. He called this “totally unrealistic”. Australia’s national target at present is for 23.5 percent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.
Federal government members such as Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Energy Minister Josh Frydenburg agreed with Turnbull that the underlying cause of the blackout in South Australia was the overreliance on wind power. Two state heads, however, have already said they won’t be touching their current renewables targets: the Head Minister of the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.