Prime minister Scott Morrison flew into Adelaide over the weekend, where he announced a $1 billion to boost South Australia’s reliance on natural gas – despite the state’s embrace of renewable energy.
The plan involves $660 million spent by the commonwealth and $440 million from the state government.
The money will be spent building a new interconnector with New South Wales, unlocking new natural gas reserves and providing investment for new hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
Under the deal, a gas target will be set for 50 petajoules a year by 2023 and 80 petajoules per annum by 2030.
As an announcement, it extends a lifeline to a pre-existing $2.4bn election commitment from the South Australian Liberal party after the New South Wales interconnector ran into trouble in February. A plan to charge customers for the construction before it had been built raised eyebrows among the Australian Energy Market Commission, throwing the project into doubt.
South Australia sourced roughly 60% of its power from renewable energy generation last year.
How the announcement will be received remains to be seen, but one voter took the chance to express their feelings at a public event attended by Morrison over the weekend in very stark terms.