In DepthEnergy Policy

Blackouts cast Australia's green energy in dim light

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Science  10 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6329, pp. 1001-1002
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6329.1001

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Summary

On 8 February, as South Australians sat down to dinner on a broiling summer evening, the lights went out. Instead of blaming the heat wave and heavy demand for air conditioning for the outage—the second in 6 months—conservative politicians took aim at South Australia's progressive government and its ambitious renewable energy policy. The blackouts, they asserted, are evidence that wind and solar power just aren't dependable. In fact, grid operators concluded that the blackouts had little to do with South Australia's rising dependence on renewables. But a backlash against wind and solar has emerged as a key test of the nation's political will to meet its pledge, under the Paris climate accord, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

  • * April Reese is a journalist in Melbourne, Australia.