SA blackout: climate change readiness will be lost if we fall for blame game Media Release

Sep 29, 2016 - 12:00pm

The opportunity to identify solutions to the real causes of South Australia’s statewide blackout, and thereby help Australia prepare for the future, will be lost if anti-renewable energy agendas are allowed to overtake a careful investigation of the situation, the Climate Institute said today.

“Reviews of this state-wide blackout must focus on the preparedness of our energy networks to cope with extreme weather, which is predicted to become more frequent in our future,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.

2012 analysis of Australia’s electricity system
, conducted by The Climate Institute, found Australia’s electricity system to be “underprepared” for the impacts of climate change. It assessed the risk of damage from more extreme wind intensity and rainfall as “high”.

“These events raise difficult questions for not only South Australia, but for the entire country. How should we ensure our 50,000 km of transmission lines are sufficiently resilient to increasingly extreme weather, and how can we do this without repeating the price shock that was caused by over-build of the distribution networks?” Connor said.

South Australia is only just beginning to recover from the extreme storm, which last night took out more than twenty high-voltage pylons across three transmission lines. This forced the shutdown of the whole state grid.

“South Australia’s power stations were able to generate electricity, but the transmission network couldn’t carry it”, Connor said. “Blaming this extraordinary outage on the state’s renewable energy generators, as some people jumped to do well before any facts were known, is both irresponsible and misleading.

“The problem during this event was the impact of the extreme weather conditions on the transmission network, so blaming power stations is incorrect,” Connor said. “Doing so doesn’t help answer the question of how South Australia - or any other state - can better weather a storm like this in the future.”

Connor said that the nation’s electricity grids will be tested like this more often in the future because climate change means storms of this magnitude are likely to become more frequent, due to the increasing energy in the atmosphere and the oceans.

“Once South Australia has recovered from the immediate and disastrous impacts of this storm, the real question that needs to be answered becomes, ‘how will we better prepare for the next one?’,” he said.

For more information:   Brinsley Marlay ● Media Manager ● 0422 140 555
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