SYDNEY Oct 6 South Australia's power outage
last week has highlighted a political row between the country's
federal and state governments over renewable energy that will
likely limit action following an emergency meeting of ministers
The meeting of state and federal energy ministers, which
still has no published agenda, was called after last week's
black out that left South Australia, a major wine producer and
traditional manufacturing hub, without power for nearly 24 hours
after severe storms and thousands of lightning strikes.
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull - leader of the
country's ruling conservative government that historically has
supported traditional coal and gas-fired power generation -
blamed South Australia's high dependence on renewable power
generation for the outage.
However, the Australian Energy Market Operator on Wednesday
reached an early conclusion that severe weather caused the
outage, but made no comment on whether the blackout could have
been avoided. State officials accused Turnbull of letting
ideology drive his comments.
The row between federal and state officials exposes a
growing rift over Australia's energy policy that should lead to
a hostile meeting that is unlikely to formulate any concrete
The federal government wants 23.5 percent of Australia's
energy mix to come from renewables by 2020, but nearly all
states have set much more ambitious renewables goals to cut
carbon dioxide emissions from their electricity sectors.
"There will no agreement around consolidation or harmonizing
renewable energy targets across different states," said David
Blowers, an energy fellow at the Grattan Institute, an
Australian think-thank. "If there is any agreement it might be
to look at infrastructure but I don't think it will go beyond
Despite the federal government's misgivings on renewables,
Australia's states are plowing ahead with more clean power
"The world is moving to renewables. We are doing that in
Queensland in the absence of national leadership and the fact
that we are having the debate about this at all is a sad
indictment and shows just how far behind the times the federal
government is," Mark Bailey, energy minister for Queensland,
Queensland, the country's largest carbon emitter, will on
Friday say it will press ahead with plans to transition power
generation to 50 percent renewables by 2030.
South Australia uses wind farms and rooftop solar panels for
40 percent of its power, more than any part of the country.
Industry experts say Canberra must raise its renewable
energy target to meet its goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions
to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)