Clean Revolution leader: South Australia

31 October 2011

This summarized case study is one of an initial set of eight success stories which illustrate the emerging global leadership of the Clean Revolution. The full-length case study - plus the other seven case studies and more information on The Clean Revolution - can all be found at

South Australia: Leading Australian climate and energy efforts

For the past decade, this small sub-national state has been a climate change and renewable energy pioneer in Australia. Driven by strong political leadership, the need to develop new sources of economic growth, and concerns about climate impacts, South Australia has established itself as a leader in clean energy deployment and investment. The development of these initiatives in an often regressive national policy environment, makes South Australia’s achievements particularly noteworthy. 

From a massive expansion in wind power, to the passing of the southern hemisphere’s first climate legislation with emission reduction targets, South Australia has led the way Down Under. Were it a nation, South Australia would have the second highest level of wind energy penetration in the world after Denmark, and it has achieved higher per capita wind generation than any major country.

In June 2011, South Australia reached the Federal and South Australian Government set 20% renewable energy targets, three years ahead of the state’s own deadline and nine years ahead of the national aspiration. This success prompted South Australia to increase its renewable energy ambitions to 33% by 2020. 


Creating economic opportunities out of addressing adverse climate impacts is an important driver of action in South Australia. For example, as the driest state in the country, South Australia is positioning itself as an international leader in all aspects of water resource management and technologies, based on its own recent experience of severe drought.

With significant closures over recent years in the manufacturing sector, South Australia recognizes that low carbon market transformation is a platform for economic development. This is exemplified by the planned US$115 million Sustainable Industries Education Centre, which will train more than 8,000 students a year in new green technologies associated with the burgeoning US$ 4.1 billion construction industry. This sector accounts for over 8% of overall state employment, with its average annual employment growing by 20% in South Australia between 2000 and 2010.

See what's driving South Australia's current and future goals in our interview with Tim O'Loughlin, Commissioner for Renewable Energy, South Australia.

Read more about South Australia and explore the other seven case studies at

Your leadership

South Australia's leading work is just part of The Clean Revolution. Your leadership will drive The Clean Revolution - and your leadership is needed now. We’re looking for business and government leaders who can either help support the campaign or provide us with compelling case studies. Join now, to help us deliver a better, smarter, more prosperous future for all

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