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Council candidates
   Questions to the candidates
   The candidates' answers
Australians love renewables
Wentworth by-election
CGVC district a laggard
Council's renewables
How close to 100%?
Misconceptions
Climate change
Related pages
Appendix Detailed responses

Clare and Gilbert Valleys: 100% renewable

While the Australian federal government tares itself apart over (in)action on climate change, several state and territory governments and many city and regional councils are taking strong action. Locally, several wineries, hotels, motels, etcetera have taken up renewable energy in a very serious way.

This page, and a companion Facebook page, aims to try to get a movement started to encourage the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council and community to make some responsible and sustainable commitments on reducing emissions and acting on the climate change that is happening here and now and will only get worse without strong action at all levels.

The lack of strong and decisive action from the Australian Government on climate change and the related problems of ocean acidification, ocean warming, coral reef damage, sea-level rise and the great many people and animals killed by the air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, makes actions at all other levels – personal, community, local government and state government – urgent.

This page was written 2018/10/21
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke) – ©
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A winery in the Clare Valley
Winery
Wineries have been early adopters of solar PV, this one at Leasingham in the Clare Valley has roughly 470 panels and 120 kW of installed solar power. Drone photo 2016/01/17.
 
Jim Barry's barrel room in the Clare Valley
Winery
Here there are 400 panels and about 100 kW of installed solar power. Drone photo 2018/10/28.

This, and the winery above, would be among the biggest solar PV installations in the C&GV local government area at the time of writing.

Is 100% renewable energy a practicality?

I have shown in another page on this site that Mid North South Australia generates far more electricity, renewably, than its total electricity consumption and it abates more CO2 emissions than it produces. That is, while Mid North SA does import non-renewable electricity at times, when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining, it exports far more renewable electricity than the fossil-fuelled electricity that it imports.

At the time of writing, while there was quite a bit of roof-top solar power, the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council district had only one wind farm and no utility-scale solar. (However, as is shown below, that one wind farm generates about 28 times as much renewable energy as all the small-scale solar in the whole of the Clare and Gilbert Valleys.)

Council itself could do more. Just installing solar panels on the roofs of council buildings would save money as well as displacing fossil-fuelled electricity.

Council candidates

One of the first things that we can do toward pressing the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council to more toward responsible renewable energy is to elect the right councillors.

I note that only one of the candidates for this year's election mentioned in their self-descriptions the word 'environment'; not one mentioned 'climate', 'renewable', 'sustainable', 'emissions' or 'carbon'. Not a promising start.

The candidates

NameContactedResponded
Alan Rye26th Oct26th Oct
Cate Hunter22nd Oct26th Oct
Ann Alder23rd Oct (post)Not yet
Bartholomaeus23rd Oct23rd Oct
Christopher Boxall22nd OctNot yet
Ian Burfitt23rd Oct26th Oct
Elizabeth Calvert23rd OctNot yet
Leon Bruhn23rd Oct30th Oct
Brian Koch23rd OctNot yet
Portia Stanton-Noble23rd OctNot yet
Nedd Golding23rd Oct26th Oct
Lucy Patricia Drummond23rd Oct25th Oct

My questions to the candidates:

Do you accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change (ACC)?

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what importance do you feel that climate change should be given by council?

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what importance would you give to Council acting to minimise its greenhouse emissions?

Many councils Australia-wide have committed to high levels of adoption of renewable energy or reduction to the greenhouse gas emissions that they are responsible for. (See Who wants renewables: regional councils for a list of some of the councils that have committed.) On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what support would you give to making some such commitment on behalf of CGVC?

Levels of importance

1-234-67-89-10
Very lowModerately lowMediumModerately highVery high


The candidates' answers

The candidates' answer will be copied here as I receive them. When a candidate gave a detailed answer I have copied it to the appendix.
NameAcceptance of ACCImportance that should be given by Council to climate changeImportance of acting to minimise emissionsSupport for Council making a public commitmentDetailed response
M. Bartholomaeus Yes 7 (moderately high) 8 (moderately high) 7 (moderately high) Below
L. Drummond Yes 9-10 (very high) 9-10 (very high)   Below
A. Rye "My answer to all of your questions is ABSOLUTELY" Below
C. Hunter Ms Hunter has not yet answered these questions but has given a detailed answer Below
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Polls show how popular renewable energy is Australia-wide and locally

 
Poll; Flinders News Internet site.
Poll results
This is the result of a poll conducted in the Flinders News, in and article written by Piper Denholm and dated 2018/03/07.

Australians love renewable energy

A Lowy Institute poll carried out on 1,200 Australian adults on 2018/06/20 showed that 84% of Australians wanted the government to "focus on renewables, even if this means we may need to invest more in infrastructure to make the system more reliable". 60% of the people polled accepted that "global warming is a serious and pressing problem" and wanted action even at significant costs, only 10% believed that global warming was in doubt.

The Conversation provided a summary of the poll results on renewables and climate change. See the Lowy Institute site for the full results.

According to a fact-check done by The Conversation back in March 2016, 16.5% of Australian householders had gone to the expense of installing solar power. This was probably the highest percentage in the world.

Local people love renewables

An online poll that was conducted by a local newspaper (results in the screen-shot on the right) indicated overwhelming support for the Crystal Brook Energy Park with five of every six respondents in favour of the project. It is a good indication of how popular renewable energy is with the people in the Mid North Region.

I've written more on the background to this poll on another page on this site.

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Wentworth by-election

At the time of writing this section, 4pm 2018/10/21, the day after the Wentworth by-election, the outcome was not settled. According to Wikipedia "the Liberal Party of Australia and their predecessors have continuously held Wentworth since the inaugural 1901 election". At the 2016 election Malcolm Turnbull was elected for Wentworth with a 17.75% margin, making it "the fifth-safest Liberal seat in the nation".

Disillusionment with the treatment of Mr Turnbull when he was dumped as Prime Minister by the Parliamentary Liberal Party, disgust with the treatment of refugees and frustration among the Australian people over lack of energy policy wiped out that 17+% margin at the by-election, making it, I believe, the biggest swing in an electorate in Australian history.

Disgust and disappointment with the government's failure to seriously attack the climate change disaster was a major factor in this swing. The Australian people want more renewables, not the protection of the dying coal industry.

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Snowtown Stage 1 Wind Farm, Wakefield Plains Council district
Snowtown Wind Farm
On a hot, dusty, summer's day
Snowtown stages 1 and 2 have a total of 138 turbines with an installed capacity of 371MW.
 
Brown Hill Range Wind Farm, Northern Areas Council district
BHR Wind Farm
Late winter
The 167 turbines of the four operating wind farms in the Hallett area have a total installed capacity of 351MW
 
Waterloo Wind Farm, mostly in Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council district, partly in Goyder council district?
Waterloo Wind Farm
Sunrise in late autumn
As of late 2016 the 43 turbines of Waterloo stages 1 and 2 had a total installed capacity of 129MW.
All but one of the turbines are in the C&GV district.
 
Clements Gap Wind Farm, Port Pirie Regional Council district
Clements Gap Wind Farm
Early morning in spring
There are 27 turbines at Clements Gap with a total installed capacity of 57MW
 
Hornsdale Wind Farm, Northern Areas Council district
Hornsdale
Early morning in early summer
The first stage of Hornsdale was finished in late 2016. It consited of 32 turbines with a total installed capacity of 100MW
Stages 2 and 3 were then contracted; Stage 2 being under construction. These would add a further 67 turbines and 209MW bringing the total for Hornsdale to 309MW.

Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council district a laggard

As mentioned above, Mid North SA as a whole – the five council districts of: Clare and Gilbert Valleys, Goyder, Northern Areas, Port Pirie Regional, Wakefield Plains together – generate far more renewable electricity than the fossil-fuelled electricity they import.

However, the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council district, on its own, is a relative laggard, it has only one wind farm (actually, most of one wind farm) and no utility scale solar power.

The Port Pirie Regional local government area is the other laggard of the Mid North, with a council that seem to be opposed to renewable energy developments, to the economic disadvantage of the community and in spite of the popularity of renewable energy with the local people as shown in the Flinders News poll. (See Tale of Two Cities and Let's have a progressive Port Pirie.)

Jamestown, the main town in the Northern Areas local government area, has reaped great advantages from the many nearby wind farms, and most of the people of Snowtown, in the Wakefield Plains council district, are very happy with their nearby wind farm (the most productive in Australia at the time of writing).

In the C&GV area there are some very creditable solar power installations on homes and businesses such as the winery pictured above, but the only utility-scale renewable energy development in the district is the relatively small, by Mid North standards, 129 MW Waterloo Wind Farm (almost entirely in the C&GVC area). The 125 MW Chaff Mill Solar Farm has been proposed north-east of Mintaro.

I believe that the Clare Valley, with its reputation as a top tourism and premium wine producing district, could and should do better.

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Council's renewable energy installations

I have been informed that Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council's only solar is at Auburn Recreation Ground. "There are 3 systems in total:
  1. Old Football Clubroom, 10 kilowatts;
  2. Kiosk, 6 kilowatts and
  3. Bowling Club, 4.5 kilowatts."
That is a total of 20.5 kW, the wineries pictured at the top of this page each have five times as much if not more; just my wife and I have 7.7 kW, and many householders have more.

As mentioned above, a number of city and regional councils are taking strong action on climate change, surely our local government can do better than this!

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How close is the Clare and Gilbert Valleys area to 100% net renewable energy?

How much renewable energy is generated in the area compared to how much energy is consumed? How much greenhouse emission is abated by the area's renewable energy compared to the emissions coming from the area? Both questions involve some fairly well known values and some that have to be approximated.

Renewable energy installations in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys area

Small-scale installations

The data below were extracted from the Clean Energy Regulator's postcode data files, 2018/10/25.

The following table lists the number of small-scale (less than 100 kW) solar installation and the total installed power of the small-scale solar installation by postcode for those postcode areas that are mainly within the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council district.

PostcodeTown(s)No. of installationsTotal rated output in kW
5410Stockport61252
5411Tarlee57233
5412Riverton/Rhynie252958
5413Marrabell/Waterloo157672
5414Manoora2170
5415Mintaro32146
5451Auburn158693
5452Watervale86632
5453Clare8534,431
TotalC&GV16778,088
 

Power and energy units

Abbreviations:
Kilowatt, kW; megawatt, MW; gigawatt, GW; terawatt, TW; kilowatt-hour, kWh.

Multipliers:
1 GW=1000 MW=1,000,000 kW.
1 TWh=1000 GWh

Power and energy:
Generation of power at a rate of 1 kW for one hour produces 1 kWh of energy.

I've written more on energy units, definitions and conversions elsewhere on this site.



Assuming a capacity factor of 18% for these solar PV installations an annual generation of 12.8 GWh can be calculated.

Medium-scale installations

Small-scale solar photo-voltaic (PV) energy installations, I believe, are defined as those smaller than 100 kW, I don't think that there is an officially drawn between medium- and large-scale projects. The solar power installation on the winery in the picture, with about 470 panels, if it is in fact 120 kW as I approximated, would probably be called medium scale. The Australian PV Institute site, 2018/10/27, stated that there were no solar power installations in the C&GV local government area greater in size than 100 kW.

Perhaps a reasonable demarkation between medium- and large-scale would be 1000 kW (1 MW).

Large-scale installations

Waterloo Wind Farm, total installed capacity 129 MW. 42 of the 43 turbines of the Waterloo Wind Farm are in the C&BV area; an installed capacity of 126 MW.

Working on that 126 MW together with a capacity factor of 33% an annual generation of 373 GWh can be calculated (364 GWh in the C&GV area), about 28 times all the small scale solar installations in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys combined.

Chaff Mill Solar Farm, proposed, installed capacity 125 MW. Assuming a capacity factor of 22% an annual generation of 241 GWh can be calculated.

Total renewable electricity generation

So the total generation of the small-scale solar and the part of the Waterloo Wind Farm in the C&GV area is about 377 GWh per year.


Energy consumption and emissions

The population of the Clare and Gilbert Valleys in the 2016 Census was 9,023; that was 0.037% of the total Australian population of 24.6 million.

Electricity

Total electricity generation in Australia in 2015-16 was 257 terawatt hours (TWh) (Australian Energy Update 2017). Working on the (rather dubious) assumption that per-capita electricity consumption in the C&GV area is the same as for Australia as a whole we can approximate power consumption for the area: 0.037% of 257 TWh is about 94 GWh per year.

Emissions

Total emissions for Australia (about 2014) were 538 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses per year, so on average each Australian is responsible for 23 tonnes each year. So, based on the (rather dubious) assumption that the per-capita emissions in the C&GV area is the same as for the whole of Australia we can approximate the region's annual emissions at around 208,000 tonnes.

Abatement

Emissions intensity in tonnes of CO2 from:
  • Brown coal fired power stations is about 1 tonne/MWh;
  • Black coal fired power stations is about 0.8 tonne/MWh;
  • Gas fired power stations is about 0.5 tonne/MWh;
Renewable energy displaces a mix of gas- and coal-fired power. Working on the conservative approximation of 0.6 tonne/MWh for the abatement from the C&GVs renewable energy we can calculate a total of 377,000x0.6=226,000 tonnes per year abatement, similar to the annual emissions calculated above.

Considering the very approximate nature of these calculation I wouldn't dare to say that abatement is greater than emissions in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys.


Bottom line

It seems, from the above calculations, that there is very little doubt that renewable electricity generation in the C&GV area is several times electricity consumption. Calculations for emissions and abatement are much more approximate, but it would seem that they are at least of similar magnitudes.

It also seems that about 96% of the electricity generation and consequent abatement is attributable to the Waterloo Wind Farm.

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Misconceptions

Some misconceptions about renewable energy have surfaced in my discussions with council candidates.

Cost

Renewable energy in the forms of wind and solar PV is cheaper than new-build coal-fired and much cheaper than nuclear power stations. That is why British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is investing a billion dollars in renewable energy in Australia, much of it in the Spencer Gulf region.

The misconception about the cost of renewable energy is so common that I've written a page devoted to it.

Government subsidies

While small-scale roof-top solar PV is subsidised I don't think utility-scale PV is, and wind farms are not subsidised. At the present the owners or operators of utility-scale PV and wind farms do receive a payment for each megawatt of electricity they generate. I believe this adds about 3-5 cents to each unit of renewable power that consumers buy; that is 3-5 cents in the typically 35 cents per kilowatt-hour that we pay.

On the other hand, the fossil fuel industry is heavily subsidised. In May 2015 The IMF estimated the subsidies going to (mainly) fossil fuels. They put the figure at $5.3 trillion per year (or about $10 million per minute).

I have written more on this on another page on this site.

Wind farms

The only wind farm in the C&GV district, Waterloo, has received more than its share of criticism. On the other hand I believe that the Snowtown wind farm had very little; I remember the then Mayor of the Wakefields Plains Council at the sod-turning ceremony of the second stage of Snowtown saying that he knew of no negativity and I recall a Snowtown woman who happened to be working on a Lions BBQ with me saying that "the wind farm was the best thing that ever happened to Snowtown".

I have been a member of the Waterloo Wind Farm Community Liaison Committee since its inception and I've studied and written about wind farms in Australia for over fifteen years.

My impression is that a small group of unscrupulous opponents can stir up a lot of fear and bad feeling. If it happens that there is no such core of dishonest people, as in the Snowtown case, and with most of the wind farms near Jamestown, then there is no bad feeling and development goes smoothly.

As mentioned elsewhere on this page we must take strong action, at all levels, federal, state, local government, and as individuals if we are to limit climate change, and the Waterloo Wind Farm generates about 28 times as much renewable energy as all the solar power installations in the C&GV area combined. I would very much like to see Council encourage any further wind power developments that may be proposed in the district.

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Climate change

 
Spring Gully stringybark
Red stringybark
The trees with the dark bark in this photo are red stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha)
 
More red stringybark about to lose their leaves in Spring Gully
Spring Gully
Photo taken 2018/05/02
Climate change is not something that is going to happen somewhere else some time in the future, as these photos show, climate change is damaging the environment of the Clare Valley now.

The photo on the right was taken in May 2008, the one below in May 2018.

I've written more on the loss of the small remnant population of red stringybarks in the Clare Valley on another page.

The only red stringybarks (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) in South Australia are in the hills in and near Spring Gully Conservation Park west of Sevenhill in the Clare Valley. They are at great risk from climate change.

Is climate change really happening and is it caused by mankind?

In discussions with candidates for the C&GV council I have found that several at least are unsure. The scientific evidence is overwhelming; about 99% of papers published in peer-reviewed climate science journals accept the fact of anthropogenic climate change (ACC, climate change caused by mankind).

Perhaps this does not mean much to people who are less familiar with science. I've written a page that gives many other reasons to accept the truth of ACC.

Climate change and me

Climate change is my greatest concern; it has been sufficient for me to walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide in 2012 with a large group who were pressing for a solar-thermal power station in Port Augusta and from Melbourne to Canberra in 2014 with a small group to deliver a petition asking parliament for action on climate change.
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Related pages on this site

Climate change in the Clare Valley
Electricity generation methods compared
Greenhouse/Climate change
Killer coal
Mid North SA, renewable energy leader
Northern SA's renewable energy
Ocean acidification
SA's great success in adopting renewable energy
Let's have a progressive Port Pirie Regional Council
Wind power in Australia





Appendix: detailed responses from council candidates

Detailed response from Malcolm Bartholomaeus

Question 1: Do you accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change?

Yes, because it is hard to imagine that the massive unlocking of carbon from fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution has not had some impact on atmospheric CO2 levels, and therefore the potential to impact our climate. In terms of weather, it is harder to attribute anthropogenic climate change to weather changes we are seeing in our lifetime, particularly as there have been similar weather events in the past over several centuries. As changes in weather become locked in as changes to our climate over several centuries, it is hard to believe that anthropogenic climate change won't be one of several factors at play, and it may be speeding up or exacerbating the natural longer term cycles of mini ice ages to mini warming events, more likely to be initiated by solar activity, volcanic activity or asteroid collisions.

Question 2: On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what importance do you feel that climate change should be given by council?
Answer: 7

The issue of climate change should be one factor considered in longer term strategic plans both for council operations and developments across the council region.. Any action will have to be paid for, so it will also involve ratepayers either foregoing services, or having to pay more in rates to find solutions that are compatible with international climate change policies (I hesitate to say national climate change policy because it is hard to find one, or state climate change policy because that seems to be driven by securing political points rather than by rational well thought out long term policies). In terms of council supporting energy generation developments, consideration will need to be given to retaining the aesthetics of the core tourism part of our valley. We may also have to remember that the CGVC region may not be the best location for a lot of these developments, but economics should provide the direction on that one.

Question 3: On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what importance would you give to Council acting to minimise its greenhouse emissions?
Answer: 8

Where possible the CGVC should be installing solar panels (or have already installed solar panels) for its own electricity needs with surplus being sold back to the grid. Council should also be beginning to look at use of battery technology if that were to become a better way of making use of electricity being generated.

The vehicle fleet should be monitored for greenhouse efficiency, both in terms of numbers of vehicles and the efficiency of each vehicle.

If there is a cost to minimising greenhouse emissions, then this should not come at the expense of other Council services (unless wasteful or unwanted services can be identified). Residents will have to understand that rates will have to be increased if minimising greenhouse emissions has a net cost.

Question 4: On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what support would you give to making a commitment to increased levels of renewable energy adoption or emissions reduction on behalf of CGVC?
Answer: 7

I will review the strategic plan for the CGVC to see if their strategy towards committing to high levels of adoption of renewable energy or reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is adequate. I will support CGVC making such a commitment (if they have not already done so), on the proviso that any additional costs incurred are passed back to ratepayers if they cannot be covered from the removal of other services etc that are no longer needed.

If moving to renewables saves costs it will be easy and one would wonder why it has not already been done. If costs are incurred (which would be the expectation), then ratepayers have to be willing to cover those costs, and in doing so empower council to pursue commitments towards adopting renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gases.



Detailed response from Lucy Drummond

Thank you for reaching out to me in regards to your questions in renewable energy. I have noticed on your website that you intend to publish all candidates answers, I consent to my answers being published, however I must stress that due to being in Election mode at the moment, my responses must accompany the following statement due to the legal obligations of the Local Government Association:

'I, Lucy Drummond give consent for these answers to be published, however they are the opinion of my own and not of of the Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council. Written and Authorised by L P Drummond, PO Box 1101, CLARE SA 5453'.

Do you accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change? Yes, I believe that climate change is very real and I have read some science journals indicate the findings which indicate the the past 100 years of climate change is likely to be due to human activities (www.climate.nasa.gov)

Question 2: On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what importance do you feel that climate change should be given by council?
Answer: 9-10

I believe that all the levels of government; local, state and federal all have a high responsibility of importance to climate change.

Question 3: On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what importance would you give to Council acting to minimise its greenhouse emissions?
Answer: 9-10

Many councils Australia-wide have committed to high levels of adoption of renewable energy or reduction to the greenhouse gas emissions that they are responsible for. (See Who wants renewables: regional councils for a list of some of the councils that have committed.)

Question 4: On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high, what support would you give to making some such commitment on behalf of CGVC?

Answer: I am aware, as many residents of the growing impact of climate change and also the adoption of renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, where possible. I would be happy to support a future plan for the CGVC to commit to these changes, however, I would endeavour to engage with the community of the CGVC region, prior to committing my support, to ensure proper representation is given.

Thank you for your questions, I hope my answers have been of some use.
Regards, Lucy



Detailed response from Alan Rye

I think I am the "greenest" councillor by quite a margin. I co-wrote Council's (woefully ignored) environment policy in 2008, together with Michael Head, and have lived in one of the earliest purpose-built sustainable homes in the Valley. In fact I did much of the building myself, together with Sydney Wood, and she still lives there. I teach chemistry at Riverton High School, and ensure that the environmental messages (which are intrinsic to the course) are well presented and understood.


Detailed response from Cate Hunter

I believe clean, green, renewable energy is the way of the future. It's less polluting. And it's good for both humans and the beautiful planet we care for. I agree that most Australians support a move away from polluting fossil fuels and towards renewables. It's even better when alternative energy solutions are cost effective and make economic sense too.

In consultation with the community, and in allignment with these guiding principles, any proposed initiatives towards increasing our commitment to renewable energy within the Council region will receive my support.






Index

Appendix: detailed responses from councillor candidates
Australians love renewables
Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council district a laggard
Council candidates
   Questions to the candidates
   The candidates' answers
   Detailed response from M. Bartholomeus
   Detailed response from L. Drummond
   Detailed response from A. Rye
Climate change
Council's renewable energy installations
How close is the Clare and Gilbert Valleys area to 100% net renewable energy?
Misconceptions
Wentworth by-election


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