Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Adelaide Convention Center. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Adelaide Convention Center. (Photo: Wikipedia)

South Australia to Go 100% Solar as Sun Power Offers World's Cheapest Energy

For one hour, on October 11, all of its electricity was generated by solar power, the first time this feat was achieved by any major jurisdiction in the world.

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

The state of South Australia is the future. For one hour, on October 11, all of its electricity was generated by solar power, the first time this feat was achieved by any major jurisdiction in the world. So reports Richard Davies of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. October is a spring month in Australia.

The news comes as the International Energy Agency reports that solar plants are now the cheapest kind of electricity plants to build worldwide. So writes Caroline Delbert at Popular Mechanics. The cost to build a solar plant is now less than for any other sort of energy, primarily because inexpensive financing for such projects is now available. The financial success of solar farms, the rapid decrease in the cost of electricity generation with this technology over the past decade, and the success of storage technologies such as Elon Musk’s Tesla 100 megawatt mega-battery in South Australia, have all convinced investors to finance solar projects at lower rates than in the past.

About a third of households in the state of South Australia have solar panels on their roofs. In addition, there are three industrial scale solar farms producing about 300 megawatts. Ordinarily, this year over half of the state’s electricity has been coming from wind and solar. Natural gas is expensive in South Australia, and the state wants to get to 100% renewables by 2030.

During the all-solar hour on October 11, natural gas plants and wind farms sent electricity to Victoria, or stored it in batteries.

Nine further smallish solar farms are being built in the state, along with two large batteries for storage.

The last coal-fired plant in the state was closed in 2016. Australia is rich in coal, but now 70% of the coal mined in that country is exported. Australia’s national government remains wedded to fossil fuels, despite massive wildfires last year that devastated the continent, and which were caused in part by global heating from the burning of gasoline, coal and natural gas.

South Australia was known for electricity outages until its government began making a push to install renewables a few years ago.

South Australia, with its capital in Adelaide, has a population of 1.76 million people (roughly Idaho or West Virginia). It has the area of Texas and Arizona combined. Yes, it is bigger than Texas. But much of the state is arid desert, and 77% of the population is huddled in its capital of Adelaide in the southeast.

Adelaide was originally populated by the aboriginal Kaurna people, who called it Tarndanyangga. It is now about as populous as San Diego. It was settled by free British immigrants, unlike the rest of Australia, which was a penal colony. In the nineteenth century, “Afghans” were brought in as camel drivers. It has the oldest continuously functioning mosque in Australia, constructed in 1889, and the state is known for its dedication to religious freedom.


© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Unless Congress Acts, 20 Million People Will Lose Unemployment Aid in Just 41 Days: Analysis

"Democrats should do whatever it takes to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring."

Jake Johnson ·


'Vile': Biden DHS to Turn Away Migrant Families Under 'Expedited Removal' Policy

"This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families."

Julia Conley ·


WATCH LIVE: House Panel Holds First Hearing on January 6 Insurrection

"Over six months later now, it's past time for the public to receive answers on the insurrection, and for those who stoked it to be held to account."

Common Dreams staff ·


Jesse Jackson, William Barber Among Dozens Arrested While Demanding Filibuster Repeal Outside Sinema's Office

"We've got to get these shackles off of our democracy," said Rev. William Barber.

Kenny Stancil ·


Ocasio-Cortez Warns Republicans Are Laying the Groundwork to 'Overturn Results' of Elections

"The time to fight like hell for democracy is right now. We may not get another chance."

Jake Johnson ·