Update:  The Islander newspaper 29 September 2011  (Pg 5)

Energy plan for island

An alternative, community-owned energy source is the subject of a new project by Regional Development Australia Hills and Coast (the former Kangaroo Island Development Board).

Renewable Energy Policy - Kangaroo Island and Beyond

Regional Development Australia Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu & Kangaroo Island Inc (RDA,AH,F,KI) has been working to develop policies related to energy for Kangaroo Island and the wider region.  A presentation to the Kangaroo Island Council on 10 December 2010, focused on a number of areas;

  • An update on the Kangaroo Island Smart Energy project
  • An update on how RDA,AH,F,KI’s work on Kangaroo Island fits into the development of
    a wider regional energy policy
  • A proposal to consider particularly opportunities for Biomass in both the community
    and commercial sectors
  • How the community might share in the development of renewable energy schemes
  • Providing a degree of financial support to RDAAH,F,KI to further this work.

Smart Energy

RDA,AD,F,KI’s Smart Energy project aims to develop a model that can be scaled and replicated, in particular it will;

  • Create a methodology for assessing alternative approaches to energy supply
     and utilisation
  • Create a portfolio of supply/demand side solutions predominantly sourced from
    SA organisations
  • Identify extant regulatory, market and technological barriers

As part of this project, RDA,AD,F,KI is reviewing energy generation, both conventional and renewable as well as energy storage.   Efficiency, demand and management systems are also being considered.

The report will be completed by the end of summer 2011, however there are a number of points of interest that have emerged.

  • There is no single solution - there will be a range of actions and systems that collectively
    will impact on the management of energy
  • Conventional energy systems will continue to be the mainstay of the system
  • There has been considerable underinvestment in infrastructure on the island
  • A key issue is how to manage the peaks; the historical way of doing this is to provide
    greater capacity (at ever increasing cost), there are ways of reducing these by a range
    of technologies
  •  There is a need for the community representatives to become more aware of issues
    that relate to supply, use and cost of electricity

RDA,AD,F,KI has a budget of $100,000 for this project; this has been secured by a $75,000 grant from DTED and two industry contributions of $12,500 each.

Regional Energy Policy

The electricity market in South Australia is integrated with the national electricity market.  The market is disaggregated and complex; the major players are the generators, retailers, distributors, transmitters and Australian Market Energy Operator (AEMO).  The market is dominated by large national and international companies and is characterised by a supply side philosophy with large generators, limited retail and monopoly distributors.  The rules and regulations are constructed to facilitate economic efficiency and reliability based on a centralised model with the following characteristics

  • Major players are rewarded by market growth, not efficiency
  • Retailers and generators are merging, leading to fewer participants
  • There are no capacity signals in the market, hence no incentive to change
  • There is no incentive to minimise emissions or consumption
  • Customers do not participate in the market
  • No central planning regime
  • Lack of coordination between generation and distribution
  • No need to consider alternate models

Electranet and ETSA utilities are planning to spend $1.632 billion during this decade on the Fleurieu to effectively maintain the status quo.  RDA,AH,F,KI supports the development of a regional body that promotes local issues and concerns regarding energy generation, distribution and use.  This would initially focus as an advocacy body that builds and creates local knowledge and expertise and engages with the regulatory and economic agencies.  Its functions could include

  • Information exchange covering issues such as policy, planning, distribution
  • Advocacy to consider new energy sources and distribution mechanisms
  • Advocating energy efficiency and community models
  • Contributing to the development of environmental policies

The work that RDA,AH,F,KI is doing on Kangaroo Island will assist in the development of a wider energy policy program.

Councils agreed to work with the RDA,AH,F,KI to help ensure that the region is equipped to participate in decisions impacting on the supply and distribution of energy.  RDA,AH,F,KI is seeking a capacity building grant from the Consumer Advocacy Association to enable the development of a level of regional expertise as well as a grant of $80,000 which will need to be supported by community funds of $20,000 and appropriate contributions from councils.


There are four areas of immediate interest relating to biomass technologies for converting biological waste materials into energy and a range of by products.  A number of technologies may be suitable for consideration.  These include;

Combustion; simply burning the material in a normal atmosphere for direct heating, steam and then electricity

Gassification; burning material in a chamber with up to 50% air content to produce gas that can then be used to generate electricity

Pyrolysis; burning material in a chamber with less than 20% air creating gas, charcoal, oil
and other by products

Anaerobic digestion; a series of processes in which microorganismsbreak down biodegradablematerial in the absence of oxygen, used for industrial or domestic purposes
to manage waste and/or to release energy.

RuralAus Investments are examining the development of a bio energy system for their commercial needs.  They have indicated a desire to meet nearly all of their operating needs from their own resources and estimate they have access to producing an excess of power that could meet part of the Island’s energy demand.    

Kangaroo Island Council has three waste streams that may have potential to act as sources for bio energy development, either individually, or in some cases collectively. 

Bio solids and putrescibles waste are processed through the Kingscote Waste Centre.  There is no doubt that these have the potential to generate energy but there needs to be an examination of the volumes to better understand the economics

There is a separate Septic Tank Effluent Scheme (STED) scheme at American River that also has the potential to act as a source for bio generation.

An analysis needs to consider the financial viability of these schemes and how any energy system might be used, in its own right or if it were possible to connect to the grid system.

The objective of the community schemes go beyond the immediate financial cost, but will also consider issues of sustainability and environmental management.  The scheme will also evaluate the opportunity of dealing with issues at source, rather than shipping the waste to Adelaide

Community Involvement

A range of actions will contribute to the development and implementation of an energy policy for Kangaroo Island.  RDA,AD,F,KI has identified the following objectives that are important for Kangaroo Island. Feedback from the community as to the appropriateness of these views is welcomed.

  • A reliable and secure power supply and distribution system
  • Sufficient access to power that will allow for long term planning and development
  • Collaboration between the commercial and community sectors to establish an
    agreed approach
  • A diversified system that both reduces risk and encourages widespread participation
  • Better utilisation of the Island’s renewable and sustainable resources in the development
    of energy
  • The opportunity to lead in the development of creative solutions and the chance to establish
    a level of self determination

RDA,AD,F,KI is reviewing alternate sources and systems for both reducing energy demand and generating energy from renewable and sustainable sources.  Ownership and control options that might be considered include

  • Joint venture between industry and the community; there are a number of models for consideration
  • Community owned; there are examples of successful models in Victoria, although there
    are some examples of market failures, there are clear examples of how this might work
  • Lease and purchase; there are ways the council might provide facilities and resources to outside operators and either agree
    to buy the output, or to benefit from sales elsewhere
  • Communities and council; the council might enter into a venture on behalf of the community, or  with the community, indeed industry might also be part of any consortium

Regional Development Australia Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu & Kangaroo Island Program

Commercial Development; RuralAus Investments are well advanced in developing their own program.  RDA,AD,F,KI will continue to work with them to facilitate the development, and to understand some of the constraints as well as opportunities for future collaboration.

Biomass; RDA,AD,F,KI has identified the four key technologies and propose to evaluate these against real opportunities linked to the waste streams on Kangaroo Island which includes costs, resource utilisation, by-products and practical uses

Renewable options; It is intended to identify a grid, considering the types of renewable and sustainable systems that could produce energy and cost these over a whole of life to determine the current appropriateness or value of the various systems.  This should provide a good tool for evaluating options as they become available

Linkages and distribution; generating energy is just one element, how that is connected to the system and distributed is equally important.  This analysis will form part of the work.

Ownership models; The work in this area will be built upon in collaboration with likeminded schemes elsewhere to develop and compare a range of options.  RDA,AD,F,KI will also develop a model for community engagement.

For further information contact Director of Strategy & Major Projects, Terry Lee Email: terryl(at)