Case studies

South Australia is on the way to achieving an ambitious vision for a low carbon, resilient economy. Here are some case studies:

  • Innovation

    Cisco – piloting smart city technologies in Adelaide

    Global technology company Cisco has partnered with the Government of South Australia and the Adelaide City Council to pilot smart city technologies and establish the Adelaide Smart City Studio as part of its global Lighthouse City program. Two pilot projects have already commenced – one to replace existing street lights with sensor-driven LED lights to demonstrate power saving and smart control capabilities, and another to deploy cameras that remotely monitor the use of on-street carparks. Other projects will address environmental monitoring and people movement. The Smart City Studio will identify opportunities for further projects and help businesses, entrepreneurs and industry transform smart city inspiration into successful products and services.  


    Zen Technologies – innovating in battery storage solutions

    ZEN Technologies (Power and Energy) Pty Ltd was established in South Australia in 2004, to develop innovative solar and energy storage technologies. The company is a key player in the solar and emerging battery storage market, selling renewable energy systems to households and commercial operations. ZEN Energy recently announced an expanded business model, becoming Australia’s first dedicated community energy retail provider, offering zero/low carbon generation options, including solar and battery storage solutions, to power entire new developments and legacy micro grid communities. In 2014, DEWNR engaged ZEN Technologies to provide a solar and battery storage energy solution for the refurbished Seal Bay Visitor Information Centre on Kangaroo Island. The centre now has a 20kW fixed ground solar voltaic panel system and a 7.5kW/40kWh Powerbank system, providing all the energy needs for this off-grid site. ZEN Technologies currently has 40 staff based at its Tonsley headquarters, however business expansion is expected to increase job creation for the South Australian company, including specialist and technical roles in the wider economy, and facilitate the growth of low carbon living and communities.


    Heliostat SA – innovating in large scale solar technologies

    To facilitate the transition from traditional manufacturing and showcase new industries and innovation, four South Australian partners Precision Components, the University of South Australia, May Brothers and Enersalt came together to create Heliostat SA. Using solar thermal energy technology developed by the CSIRO, CSPV concentrated solar photovoltaic (the new multi-junction cells) and conventional photovoltaic PV tracking Heliostat SA develops utility scale projects, manufactures and constructs these systems. Heliostat SA has successfully established agreements to support the growing energy needs of India, Japan and the Asia Pacific. The agreements will see the deployment of 3 gigawatts of capacity (1 gigawatt is equal to 1 billion watts enough to supply a city the size of Adelaide) with the creation of hundreds of new jobs at Heliostat SA’s site at Beverley over the next two years.


    Sundrop Farms – innovating in solar energy

    Sundrop Farms Pty Ltd in Port Augusta is revolutionising horticulture by growing premium produce in an arid climate, using a state-of-the-art greenhouse facility that uses seawater and solar thermal energy to produce electricity, desalinate water and warm the greenhouse. The South Australian Government awarded $345,000 to Sundrop Farms in 2011 to demonstrate the use of solar energy in horticulture. In 2013, the CEFC committed $40 million in debt finance, which facilitated a growth capital raise from the private sector. This capital underpins the construction of a 20 hectare greenhouse facility, which is scheduled for completion in 2016 and is expected to create approximately 175 jobs.


    Siemens and Carbon Neutral Adelaide partnership – identifying the right technologies to reduce city emissions

    The Carbon Neutral Adelaide Partnership is working with global technology giant Siemens to assess the environmental and economic impacts of over 70 building, transport and energy technologies for the city using Siemens’ City Performance Tool. The tool can assist in modelling technology uptake and the associated greenhouse gas emission reduction and air quality impacts, as well as the creation of local jobs to install, operate and maintain technologies. The tool will inform the development of the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan, allowing city planners to prioritise infrastructure investments based on measurable benefits for growth and sustainability.

  • Leadership

    Sustainable City Incentives Scheme tells investors that Adelaide is ‘serious’

    For global real estate management firm JLL, participating in the Sustainable City Incentive Scheme simply made sound business sense.

    The company was keen to improve the NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) rating for the premium office building it manages at 45 Pirie Street, Adelaide by installing a large solar array, and a rebate reduced expenditure on the investment by around 3%, helping to deliver a positive long-term return to investors.

    Under the scheme, JLL was approved to receive up to $5000 on a percentage scale against total expenditure.

    “We wanted to improve both capital value and rental returns through improved sustainability credentials of the asset,” said JLL’s Director of Engineering and Operational Solutions in South Australia, Paul Lemmey.

    “The system has produced an average 12.5MWh of energy per month since commissioning, saving the owner around $2500 in energy costs from the grid per month.”

    Mr Lemmey said the Incentives Scheme sent an important message to property investors that Adelaide was serious in the promotion of low carbon investments to the broader property market.

    “This is being readily taken up to bring significant benefit to not only the owners of the assets and their tenants, but to the broader global fight against climate change,” he said.


    World Solar Challenge nearly 30 years of electric vehicle innovation

    The South Australian Government is the proud owner of the World Solar Challenge - the world’s premier challenge to design and build a solar powered electric vehicle and drive it across the Australian continent from Darwin to Adelaide. Since the Challenge commenced in 1987 the event has contributed to global innovations in electric vehicle technologies including electric drivetrains, energy storage and energy management, as well as advanced and lightweight materials, aerodynamics, tyres, braking systems and of course solar photovoltaics. Attracting over 40 teams from 25 countries it provides the adventure of a lifetime for the thousands that have embraced the opportunity to participate.


    Uniting Communities South Australia's first carbon neutral organisation

    Uniting Communities is leading the way for organisations across Australia by becoming the first South Australian organisation and first Australian charity to become certified as carbon neutral - saving their organisation over $1,000,000 and reducing carbon emissions by over 34% in the past five years. A range of programs have helped them achieve this, including upgrades to buildings, behaviour change initiatives with 1400 employees and volunteers, transitioning their fleet to hybrid petrol-electric vehicles and reducing waste to landfill through more effective management of recyclable and organic waste. With strong leadership support, the organisation could see the value in not only reducing its carbon footprint, but the opportunity to save on operational costs so that these funds could be invested in their valuable community programs supporting socially disadvantaged and low-income people and families. Uniting Communities received certification under the Federal Government's Carbon Neutral Program in December 2015.


    Leading the nation on renewables

    South Australia acted early on renewable energy and our regulatory frameworks are considered to be the most supportive in the country. After exceeding our renewable energy target to generate 33 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, we now have a new target to generate 50 per cent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. In 2014/15, 41 per cent of our electricity was generated from renewable sources, including 34 per cent generated from wind energy.

    Around $6.6 billion has already been invested in the renewable energy industry and thousands of jobs have been created; around 40 per cent, or $2.4 billion, has been realised in regional areas. The Low Carbon Investment Plan sets a new target of achieving $10 billion investment in low carbon energy generation by 2025.

    South Australia was the first jurisdiction to provide a premium feed-in tariff mechanism to support the installation of solar photovoltaic systems. As a consequence, we have the highest penetration of rooftop solar in the National Electricity Market with installations in one in four households, and this continues to grow.



    Santos, one of Australia’s largest producers of natural gas, has actively participated in action to address greenhouse gas emissions and integrated climate risk into its business framework. This includes initiating its own sustainability reporting; engaging with development of international reporting guidelines for the oil and gas industry; measuring and managing internal performance; and investing in low carbon technologies. Additionally, Santos has been a strong and consistent voice in government policy development.

    Across its operations, Santos’ energy efficiency program delivers annual energy savings equivalent to approximately 235,000 tonnes CO2e. The following energy efficiency measures, implemented at the Moomba plant in the far north of the state, deliver a total annual savings of 149,000 CO2e.


    Upper Spencer Gulf Common Purpose Group

    The Upper Spencer Gulf region has a strong heritage and capability in industrial manufacturing, and is located in close proximity to diverse renewable and low carbon energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and algae. The region therefore has significant potential to leverage private investment to help diversify the local economy, create jobs and increase prosperity and long-term sustainability for the Spencer Gulf region.

    Recognising this, the three cities that form the nucleus of the region – Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie – have formed the Upper Spencer Gulf Common Purpose Group to combine existing capabilities and position the region as an ideal site to trial and test renewable energy technology, research and innovation, development and commercialisation.


  • Adaptation

    Mallala settlement – coastal assessment

    The University of South Australia was commissioned by the District Council of Mallala to undertake work on a Coastal Settlements Adaptation Study in May 2013. The prime focus of the Coastal Settlements Adaptation Study was to evaluate how rising sea levels will impact on the settlements of Parham, Webb Beach, Thompson Beach and Middle Beach and to propose adaptation strategies to cope with changes in sea level and sea flooding. This project was supported by grant funding from the Coast Protection Board, with project support also provided by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

    Realistic, cost effective and risk based recommendations have been provided for proposed adaptation strategies to strengthen the resilience of the four settlements. These are assisting Council with short and long term planning considerations which is being undertaken in consultation with affected communities. An important priority action is to develop Community Emergency Management Plans in all four communities including accommodation strategies, to ensure preparation for sea flood inundation in a manner that will minimise damage to property and risk to the safety and wellbeing of visitors and residents in each settlement.


    SARDI – working with primary industries to manage climate impacts

    Agriculture in South Australia is vulnerable to changes in climate. Low rainfall farmers are concerned about shifts in Goyder’s Line of reliable cropping. However changes in farming practices and crop varieties have been shown to counter some of the pressure. Wine grape growers have noticed warmer vintages upsetting fruit and wine balance, and “compressing” harvest into shorter time windows. South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the research arm of the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), is exploring cost-effective practices to counteract these effects. Preliminary studies with Barossa Shiraz show that delaying pruning from winter into early spring improves wine balance and spreads harvest. Although climate change presents considerable challenges, there is a high level of adaptive capacity in agricultural industries that comes from a partnership between local know-how and applied research.

  • Community Capacity

    Resident Paquita Nicholls – Reduced cost battery makes solar add up

    For City of Adelaide resident Paquita Nicholls, the Sustainable City Incentives Scheme was the catalyst for a change she had long wanted to make.

    A committed advocate for green energy, she had previously confined herself to buying as much renewable energy as possible through her electricity provider.

    Solar power seemed a great concept, but not really practical given that she wasn’t at home to use the electricity when it was being produced.

    The arrival of battery technology changed the picture, and a $5000 Sustainable Incentives rebate helped make the numbers add up, given the substantial reduction in electricity bills.

    “The Council wrote to us encouraging us to install solar panels and the grant means I am essentially getting the battery for free, which is great,” she said. “It allows me to get full benefit from the solar panels I’ve installed and it really adds value to the house.”

    Last December Paquita installed a 4.95kW solar system in her townhouse in Gilles Street and, she says, it “works like a charm”. The panels are barely visible though they cover both sides of her roof, which faces east-west, and the battery sits discreetly on her upstairs balcony.

    “The technology has improved so much in recent years, the cost of a system has fallen dramatically and the battery makes it all feasible,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier.”


    Duc Mai Lawyers – Rebate makes LED lights even more attractive

    A Sustainable City Incentives rebate was nice icing on the cake for Adelaide law firm Duc Mai Lawyers when they decided to convert the 16 lights in their Carrington Street office from halogen downlights to LED.

    They were already committed to “playing our little part in helping reduce carbon emissions”, according to Office Manager Patricia Mai, but the $480 contribution helped knock more than a quarter off their out-of-pocket expenses, meaning the cost will be recouped even more quickly.

    “It’s still early days but from looking at our bills I think we’re saving about $2 a day, which I guess over the course of a year adds up to a few hundred dollars,” she said. “It’s an older building and the halogen lights were using quite a lot of energy. We have them on all day, particularly in winter when it can get quite dark.”

    The installation cost was pushed up by the amount of cable needed in the old two-storey building, but Patricia and her colleagues are more than happy with the result.

    “Actually getting the rebate was really straight forward,” she said. “We just had to show the electrician’s receipts and then it only took a few weeks”.

    Under the Incentives Scheme, 30% up to $1000 is available for converting halogen downlights to LED downlights.

    “I would certainly recommend it to others,” Patricia said. “And it’s worth looking at the website because there is quite a range of incentives, including for installing solar. We’ve got a few quotes for solar energy down the track.”


    Residents Greg and Marjon Martin – Solar saves money and changes thinking

    Adding battery storage to their solar system has made quite a difference for City of Adelaide residents Marjon and Greg Martin. They not only increased the number of panels on their Weil Street home from six to 16, they started looking more strategically at how and when they use electricity.

    “What we find most interesting is understanding our own habits and working out how much we will change to get the most efficient use of our solar panels and battery system,” Marjon said.

    The Martins were approached by AllGrid Energy to be the first home in Adelaide to use its hybrid 10kW/h system and jumped at the chance. They purchased the storage battery using a Sustainable City Incentives Scheme grant, and the impact has been significant.

    “We have been delighted as the additional energy we put into the grid during our last billing period equated to planting seven trees; plus we received a small payment,” Marjon said. “The eight cent rebate covered the usage and supply charges, including Green Energy choice.”

    Marjon and Gregory are very committed to living sustainably. With Council assistance they have plumbed tank water into their house and over the past five years have also installed LED lights and better roof insulation, double glazed the windows and added a verandah for shade.


    School 'champions' – Cowandilla Primary School

    Cowandilla Primary School is a near city school with a highly diverse student population. Cowandilla has been a Climate Change Focus School since 2003 and in 2015 won a Specialist Schools Grant to progress work on climate change. The students were keen to form a Climate Change Student Group after being taught about climate change at the time the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth was released. This is a group of 39 volunteers who help with the school’s recycling system, planting and caring for a vegie garden and native plants, writing articles for the school newsletter and sharing information at assemblies.

    Cowandilla has capacity to catch 400,000L of rainwater, which is used to flush toilets and partly irrigate the gardens and oval. Exotic trees have been replaced with natives, and lawn has been removed where it was not needed as a playing surface. Solar panels have been installed and there are programs to reduce the consumption of electricity and water. By visiting visit Christie Walk, the Food Forest, the market and the zoo, students are taught about sustainable house design, local food production, food miles and the interconnectedness of eco systems on Earth.


    Community champions – Brian Foster

    Brian is recognised as a leader in rural and regional adaptation to climate change, driven by first-hand experience and understanding as a fourth generation farmer on the Eyre Peninsula. Brian’s commitment to addressing the challenges of climate change began in the late 1990’s; his attendance at a lecture by Professor Tim Flannery in Port Lincoln in 2005 strengthened this commitment. Brian was instrumental in ensuring climate change was incorporated into the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resource Management Plan - one of the first Natural Resources Management Plans in Australia to formally incorporate the issue of climate change. Brian played a key role in establishing the Eyre Peninsula Regional Sector Agreement, the first of its kind in Australia. In June 2013; Brian won the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) National Climate Champion Individual Award.