Progressive and regressive

A 2016 snapshot of some contrastingly progressive and regressive communities, corporations and governments from a South Australian perspective.

A closely related page I wrote in 2018 compares Spencer Gulf cities, particularly Port Augusta (progressive) and Port Pirie (regressive).

This page written 2016/07/17, last edited 2021/01/04
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©


Grasping the future...


Floating PV panels proposed for Jamestown, South Australia
Floating PV panels
Image credit ABC
It was interesting to read the coverage of the recent 'switching on' ceremony of the Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown (2016/07/07). The Northern Regions Council (based in Jamestown) has embraced renewable energy – with this and earlier wind farms as well as the innovative floating solar power station – and is reaping the benefits in increased work for local contractors, increased patronage of local businesses, increased income for farmers and the very substantial support for community projects provided by the wind farm operators.

The first stage of the floating solar power system in Jamestown was officially opened in April 2015. See Infratech for more information on the project.


Mid North SA wind farm
wind farm
The people of Snowtown, too, are well aware of the value to their town of their wind farm. I recently worked on a Lions BBQ with someone from Snowtown who told me that "the wind farm was the best thing to happen to Snowtown" in many years.


Port Augusta

Port Augusta has the very ingenious Sundrop Farm, producing tomatoes from seawater and solar power, and seems almost certain to soon have a solar thermal power station as well as one or more very large solar PV power stations. Even Indian coal mining giant Adani is proposing a huge 250MW solar PV power station for Port Augusta and another 150MW for Whyalla.

The whole Sundrop Farm development
Sundrop Farms
Photo taken with my drone

Kangaroo Island

At the same time Kangaroo Island Council is aiming at 100% renewable energy by developing wind, solar and battery storage. Kangaroo Island also is aiming at catering for electric cars. Six electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, largely solar powered, were installed in 2013. EVs are available for hire on the island.

South Australia

The South Australian state government had a target of 33% renewable power by 2020; this was achieved in 2013-14 and was replaced by a new target of 50% by 2025.

SA update, July 2018

South Australia achieved the 50% renewable energy target seven years early, around 2017. In early 2018 the Labor government was replaced by a Liberal government. Surprisingly the new state government seems to have accepted that South Australia's future is with renewable energy; the new state Energy Minister, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said in July 2018 that the state was on track to have 75% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.


The Australian Capital Territory has secured the renewable energy contracts it needs to achieve its aim of 100% clean power by 2020.

Clinging to the past...

Spot prices
Graph source: CEDEX Report

The Liberals

Then there is the Liberal-National Coalition federal government whose idea of energy innovation is trying to get a little more life out of the dead horse that is the coal industry, at the same time seeming to do all they can to condemn the world to acidification of the oceans and climate catastrophe.

In mid 2016 the South Australian Liberal opposition (and the Murdoch media) were blaming the high wholesale electricity prices on the state's wind and solar power, ignoring what experts were saying about exceptionally high spot prices in all eastern states (graph on the right) and the causes of high electricity prices in South Australia being high gas prices (gas was used to generate the state's non-renewable power) and delays in upgrading an interstate electricity connector due to weather.

The CEDEX Report July 2016 contained the graph shown on the right. It shows that SA's spot prices are very similar to those of other eastern Australian states.

BHP Billiton

Mining giant BHP Billiton owns the copper and gold mine at Olympic Dam in South Australia's far north that has been operating since 1987 and has taken power from the eastern Australian power grid continually since that time. The mine is a major consumer of power and is located in an area that has the best solar power potential of anywhere in Australia connected to the grid by a high-capacity power line.

So what has BHP done about harnessing the huge potential of solar power at Olympic Dam? Nothing at all. In July 2016 they were complaining about the high cost of grid electricity.

Of course they need lots of power around the clock, not just during daylight hours, so a solar thermal power station with storage would be ideal.

If BHP was innovative they could use the mined out parts of their Olympic Dam mine for the development of a pumped-hydro system to store energy.

BHP Billiton is a major miner of metallurgical and thermal coal, perhaps this makes them blind to the possibilities of renewable energy. Come on BHP, see if you can join the progressive part of the world and kick the fossil fuel habit.