SYDNEY Oct 7 Australia will conduct an
independent review into a blackout last week across South
Australia state, although a meeting between state and federal
energy ministers failed to resolve their differences over
renewable energy targets.
South Australia state, a major wine producer and traditional
manufacturing hub, had no power last week for nearly 24 hours
after a series of severe storms and lighting strikes.
But while energy officials agreed on Friday at an emergency
meeting on the need for an independent review, political
divisions over renewables targets still persisted.
"The Australian government would like to see greater
harmonisation of renewable targets, and I made that clear to the
state energy ministers," said Josh Frydenberg, Australia's
federal energy minister.
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull - leader of the
country's ruling conservative government, which supports
traditional coal and natural gas power generation - has blamed
South Australia's high dependence on renewables for the outage.
Turnbull's assessment has drawn criticism from state
leaders, who accused the prime minister of letting ideology
drive his comments.
The federal government wants 23.5 percent of Australia's
energy mix to come from renewables by 2020. Nearly all states,
though, have set more ambitious renewables goals to cut carbon
dioxide emissions from their power sectors.
Australia's government has sought to clarify Turnbull's
comments about renewables, saying that because South Australia
relies on intermittent renewables for 40 percent of its power,
when those sources fall short there is not an alternative such
as gas or coal to pick-up the slack.
Gas-fired power generation has struggled to complete with
cheaper-to-operate renewables, and that has led to up to 15
percent of Australia's natural gas power capacity being
Besides looking at the role played by renewables in the
power outage, the independent review will also examine measures
supported by Australian power generators for increase the
competitiveness of natural gas, Frydenberg said.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Tom Hogue)