The ACT is set to join the exclusive club ‘100 per cent renewables club’ alongside Rhein-Hunsrück, Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, Extremadura, Burgenland, Carinthia, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Austria, according to a new report from The Australian Institute.
When stage three of South Australia’s Hornsdale Wind Farm comes online on 1 October, the ACT will become the first major jurisdiction outside Europe to transition from a fossil fuel-based energy supply to 100 per cent renewable electricity, nearly two months ahead of schedule.
The territory will join three jurisdictions in both Germany and Austria, and one jurisdiction in Spain in achieving complete, clean energy.
While some jurisdictions have achieved 100 per cent renewable energy based on historic investments in hydroelectricity, the report said the ACT will join a select few to have made the transition from a fossil fuel-dominated energy system to renewables.
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The Australia Institute’s climate and energy program director Richie Merzian called the ACT a “renewable energy trailblazer”, saying the achievement showed what governments can achieve with a strong climate and energy policy.
“The ACT Government is leading the transition to clean energy,” Mr Merzian said. “The report shows that states and territories are leading the way on climate action while national governments often lag behind. Australia is a perfect example of that.
“While some federal parliamentarians are trying to hit the brakes on Australia’s energy transition, even Parliament House will soon run on 100 per cent renewable energy.”
Mr Merzian said the ACT has provided a working example that other state governments are starting to copy; in particular, Victoria and Queensland. ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said he was happy for other governments to follow the ACT’s lead.
“I think many people are unsure how to do this so we want others to copy us,” Mr Rattenbury said. “We are perfectly happy if they copy what we have done because I think we have provided a template that is effective but also cost-effective.”
Mr Rattenbury said he believes the majority of Canberrans are proud of the ACT Government’s achievement of 100 per cent renewable electricity, saying that it offsets their frustration towards the Federal Government’s lack of action.
“I think Canberrans love the delicious irony of the fact that from now on, all the politicians on the Hill who are talking down renewables will be working in a building that is 100 per cent powered by green energy,” Mr Rattenbury said.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT reaching its goal was a symbolic statement to the rest of the nation that the national capital will continue lead in this area.
“This achievement reflects the culmination of a pretty significant journey for this city,” Mr Barr said. “We are seeing jobs created in industries that didn’t exist in our city 10 years ago and we are seeing more energy produced in our region.
“Previously, we were a very significant importer of power across the Eastern seaboard and while we still remain an importer of power through renewable sources, we are seeing more energy generated in Canberra and the region.”
The Australian Institute said jurisdictions in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Uganda are expected to join the ACT in the to 100 per cent renewable electricity club next year.
Read The Australian Institute’s report here.