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HomeIssue 18NT is biggest loser in nation's renewable energy race

NT is biggest loser in nation's renewable energy race

Above: Ross River Solar Farm. That’s not our Ross River, it’s in  Townsville, Qld. Photo by Sam Lumley. 

LAST UPDATED 25 November 2019, 4.11pm. See Minister Wakefield’s and Minister Lawler’s responses at bottom. 
Expansion of the Territory’s gas and fracking industries is “incompatible with achieving net zero emissions”, says the Climate Council in new report is called “State of Play: Renewable Energy Leaders and Losers”.
This failing has earned it – for the fifth year in a row, last place in the state and territories renewable race – despite its tremendous renewable potential.
The Climate Council’s report examines how the states and territories are tracking with making the transition to renewables.
The Territory’s position is in stark contrast to South Australia’s and the ACT’s.
The ACT is on track to achieve 100 percent renewable energy on January 1, 2020. This is a remarkable achievement, says the Climate Council, and makes the ACT just the 8th jurisdiction in the world with a population above 100,000 to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity.
SA now generates over half of its electricity from wind and solar and is aiming for net 100 percent renewable energy in the 2030s.
Victoria and Queensland are making good progress on the transition to renewable energy, but the Climate Council says they will need to work hard to catch the frontrunners.
NSW and WA are the only states without a renewable energy target, while the Northern Territory ranks last or near the bottom on most other metrics.
“The NT has once again been awarded the Wooden Spoon, for the 5th year running,” said Climate Councillor and energy expert, Andrew Stock.
“Fortunately, we are seeing some progress from the Territory, which recently announced a draft aspirational target for net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.
“While this is an important step in the right direction, the draft plan supports the expansion of the Territory’s gas and fracking industries, which is incompatible with achieving net zero emissions and effectively tackling climate change,” said Mr Stock.
“The NT has huge renewable potential, with some of the best solar resources in the world, and could position itself as a national, if not a global powerhouse,” said Climate Councillor Greg Bourne.
“Its renewable resources present tremendous economic opportunities, including the potential to export renewable energy to other Australian states and to Asia.
“States and territories are driving the transition to a renewable energy future, in the face of the Federal Government’s reckless lack of leadership. As a result, several states and territories have declared the intention to go it alone on renewable energy policy,” said Mr Bourne.
“Climate change is hurting Australians and their calls for climate action are growing louder. We have a terrible trifecta of bushfires, heatwaves and drought and they are all being made worse by climate change,” said Mr Stock.
Source: Climate Council media release.
The Alice Springs News has sought comment from the NT’s Minister for or Renewables, Energy and Essential Services, Dale Wakefield.
UPDATE 25 November 2019, 1.40pm. 

Minister Wakefield says her government is “on track” to achieve its target of 50% renewables by 2030.


“When we first came to government, we were at 2.6% of renewables and by the end of this year we expect to be at 6%.


We are on track and will continue the work to achieve our renewables target because it means more jobs, cheaper power and a more secure economic future for the Territory.”


Its investment of more than $59 million in renewable energy and energy efficiency includes:


•$5 million over three years to establish the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy at Desert Knowledge Australia, to deliver collaborative projects on future grid options and transferring knowledge and technology on renewables and electricity system integration.

•$5 million over three years, 2018 to 2021, for the Rooftop Solar in Schools initiative.

•$8.3 million, over two years, for Territory Generation’s five Mega-Watt battery energy storage system in Alice Springs.

•$31 million over two years to contribute to Power and Water Corporation’s Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP), which rolled out 10 Mega-Watts of solar generation in remote communities. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) also invested $31.5 million in SETuP.

•$4.25 million, over two years, for the Smart Energy Grants Program.

•$0.5 million in 2018-19 for the Smarter Business Solutions Program.

•$0.75 million, over two years, for development of Validated Dynamic Network Models by Power and Water Corporation.

•$1.5 million over three years, 2017 to 2020, for research projects conducted by Charles Darwin University and the Centre for Appropriate Technology, under the Renewable Energy Research and Development Fund.

•$0.25 million in 2018-19 for the Environment Centre NT’s COOLmob Program that provides energy efficiency education.

•$2 million in 2018-19 for the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development’s Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Grants Program for local councils.

On the chief substance of the Climate Council’s criticism, which is that the expansion of gas and fracking is incompatible with net zero emissions by 2050, Minister for Climate Change Eva Lawler will respond. 

UPDATE 25 November 2019, 4.11pm. 


Minister Lawler says her government stands by the aspirational net zero emissions by 2050 target outlined in the draft Climate Change Response. The Response will be finalised early next year.


The Response aims to minimise climate risk and harness the significant economic opportunities available to Territorians.


Low-carbon economic growth is underpinned by the growth of a renewable energy industry. Solar is the cheapest form of new electricity generation and in the Northern Territory, we have one of the best solar resources in the world.


The Territory Labor Government accepted all 135 recommendations from the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing, including the recommendation to work with the Australian Government to ensure there is no net increase in the lifecycle emissions emitted from hydraulic fracturing in the NT.


A draft offsets framework is currently being developed to be released for public consultation in early 2020.




  1. The ACT Government buys in most of its power from interstate, at a heavy premium. (A premium made even higher at the retail end due the convoluted legals in place to make the ‘100% renewable’ model a ‘reality.’) It’s virtue signalling, not effective utility supply.

  2. “On track” – what track? The government has not declared milestones by which we can measure progress. It is not clear or obvious that there is a track, let alone that they are on it.

  3. “On Track?” I wonder, and only quote:-
    An alarming United Nations report released Tuesday said global temperatures are on track to rise as much as 3.9°C by the end of the century, meaning only drastic and unprecedented emissions reductions can stave off the most devastating consequences of the climate crisis.
    According to the report, produced by an international team of leading scientists and researchers, greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling 7.6% annually by 2020 to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C by 2030.
    Besides the field of panels towards the airport and on the roof of Araluen and of the Double Tree … where are the panels developed by the NT Government? Perhaps the hidden plan is to put them on the cleared site of the Anzac Hill High School?

  4. What the heck is the “fracking” industry?
    You obviously aren’t reporting about a gas extraction method that has been used successfully and without incident in Australia since the 1960s (Moomba).


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