South Australia breaking new ground

Leading the way in rooftop solar

solar_paradisoGenerous feed-in tariffs and support from local councils and the State Government has helped Adelaide become the nation’s leader in rooftop solar. Almost one-third of SA homes have rooftop solar panels, but this is expected to taper off since the feed-in tariff scheme ended on September 30. Adelaide solar energy business Suntrix launched in 2009 after owners Jenny Paradiso and David Hille struggled to find credible solar options for their home.

Ms Paradiso, Suntrix’s managing director, says the feed-in tariffs and local and State Government backing have helped Adelaide become a leader in rooftop solar.

“We had one of the most generous feed-in tariffs and that got the momentum started years ago and some people will still (benefit) until 2028,” she says. She says commercial rooftop solar is increasingly popular among Adelaide businesses. “We are finding more commercial properties are putting solar in, more than residential, as they are looking to reduce operating costs as much as they can,” Ms Paradiso adds.

“We see a lot of people looking at their electricity bills and there’s more of climate change and carbon footprint having an impact (on people’s mindsets).”
Rooftop solar systems aren’t cheap, but people should look at them as an investment. “If you are looking at getting a good quality solar system it will take anywhere from two and a half to four years to pay off,” she says. “Any less, I would be concerned about the quality of the products. There are still a lot of cowboys out there selling junk.”

Adelaide’s Carbon neutral focus is green and lean

Adelaide City Council has taken a proactive approach to help South Australia take a leading role. It is committed to its operations being carbon neutral by 2020 and is working to help the broader community achieve similar goals. Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese and the council outlines its carbon neutral strategy: 2015-2025 in a report. In which Mr Haese says Adelaide is a city of firsts and has a long history of innovation and leadership.

“Adelaide City Council and the government of South Australia are proud of their intention to make Adelaide the world’s first  carbon neutral city,” he says. “We have signed parallel international agreements on climate change — the Compact of Mayors and the Compact of States and Regions — and we have also entered into a sector agreement to formalise our work together.”

The report reveals the Adelaide City Council community reduced its carbon emissions by 20 per cent between 2007 and 2013. “Analysis indicates that the 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions could largely be attributed to decarbonisation or ‘greening’ of the city’s electricity supply due to large-scale wind projects and widespread roof- top solar photovoltaic,” it says. “(There have also been) significant energy efficiency improvements in new and existing commercial buildings.”The council’s strategic plan centres on four themes: smart, green, liveable, creative. “As the world moves towards a low carbon future, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to capitalise on these massive global changes to our energy systems and position ourselves as a centre for innovation and early adoption of clean technologies,” Mr Haese adds.

At the wheel of leading edge technology

South Australia is leading the nation in testing and legislating to allow driverless cars. In fact, SA was the first state in Australia to pass laws regarding driverless cars, allowing on-road trials. Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) executive director Rita Excell says there are many benefits to driverless cars.

“From a road safety perspective, it’s expected up to 90 per cent of crashes would be eliminated from driverless vehicles,” she says. “(People) make mistakes and having a computer that doesn’t make mistakes and can talk to other cars — and interact with each other — means they aren’t trying to predict what
the others are going to do.”

Furthermore, driverless cars will provide travel options for people, including those with disabilities, who can’t operate conventional cars.
Ms Excell says SA has been recognised as the lead state for driverless technology in Australia.

“We were the first to do on-road demonstrations of the technology, in November 2015, on the Southern Expressway,” she says.“SA’s legislation (about driverless vehicles) has been used as a model to help inform what the national legislation might look like. “The SA Government is part of what is a collaboration of over 90 organisations that come from research and industry.”

Ms Excell expects the first driverless cars to be on SA roads will be driverless shuttles, used in areas such as university precincts. This is likely to be rolled out within five to 10 years as car companies and major companies such as Google continue to hone the technology.

Family ties

Adelaide enjoys strong relationships with its five sister cities in China, the US, Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand. The benefits include boosting tourism, learning about new cultures and establishing bonds of friendship. Austin, in Texas, shares a birthday with South Australia — both having been founded as separate states of their countries in 1836.

The partnership between Austin and Adelaide is focused on deepening cultural ties, marketing products and services and promoting tourism.

Christchurch and Adelaide formed a sister city relationship in 1971, with plans to foster closer understanding between the two places, exchange ideas, encourage trade and welcome visitors associated with trade missions, exchange students and sporting competitions. George Town, in Malaysia, has had ties with Adelaide since 1973 and the relationship has blossomed through tourism, visits by delegations and trade missions.

sister_cityIn 1982, Adelaide and Himeji, in Japan, formalised a sister city partnership which has been mutually beneficial through tourism and educational exchanges. The Adelaide Himeji Gardens, in the southern Parklands, was a gift from Himeji in 1982.

Japanese landscape designer Yoshitaka Kumada visited Adelaide twice in the late 1980s to ensure the layout of the garden adhered to traditional principles. Adelaide’s fifth sister city is Qingdao, in the eastern Shandong Province of China, and was chosen because of the positive impact the relationship will have on trade.
In 2002, a Memorandum of Understanding about education and training was signed and, in 2015, Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese participated in a state government led trade mission to Shandong Province. Mr Haese says sister city relationships are diverse and dynamic.

“The future of Adelaide is in creating a true global city, which is renowned for its livability, creativity and prosperity,” he says.“Our city’s sister city relationships are vital to achieving this goal.”

Adelaide also has two friendship cities in China: Dalian, in Liaoning; and Chengdu, in Sichuan.