Making Eyre Peninsula one of a series of renewable energy zones across Australia could have many benefits for the region.
Apart from boosting security of supply and a no doubt leading to a higher capacity connection to the rest of the national grid, it would also provide an economic boost and create more jobs in the region.
As opposition leader Bill Shorten said in his address to the National Energy Summit this week, declaring renewable zones would “plant the flag for investors”.
The idea of the Eyre Peninsula as a renewable energy hub is not a new one.
There have been a number of investors that have set their sights on Eyre Peninsula because of its renewable energy potential, particularly when it comes to wind and wave power, but the limits of the transmission line to Eyre Peninsula has always been a deal breaker.
Former member for Flinders Liz Penfold spent a lot of time lobbying for and working on potential renewable energy projects and often bemoaned the inadequacy of the 132 kilovolt transmission line.
If the federal government did create a renewable energy zone on Eyre Peninsula it may help the region get a better connection to the rest of the state and the rest of the country.
More recently, one of Australia’s leading climate change authorities, economist Ross Garnaut has also identified Eyre Peninsula as being well placed to become national and international leaders in the new low carbon economy.
Speaking in Port Lincoln last year, Mr Garnaut said South Australia was the best placed state to be the leader in a low-carbon economy and Eyre Peninsula and the Upper Spencer Gulf were “top of the South Australia league” with potential for hydrogen, clean ammonia, silica and graphite production, uranium enrichment, processing lithuim and rare earths.
The potential is exciting but at the moment potential seems to be all there is and unless plans and proposals are put into practice it may not lead anywhere.
For now the most promising things on the horizon for Eyre Peninsula’s energy woes are a report from Electranet’s on its plans to improve electricity supply reliability to Eyre Peninsula and the Essential Services Commission of South Australia’s final report from its inquiry into reliability and quality of electricity supply on the Eyre Peninsula.