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The South Australian Government has published a world-first Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act draft, to support large-scale projects with streamlined regulatory and licensing systems. 

South Australian Premier, Peter Malinauskas, announced the Act draft during his speech to the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam.

The Act is now in a consultation phase with South Australian residents. 

The proposed Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act aims to introduce a ‘one window to government’ licensing and regulatory system for the lifecycle of large-scale hydrogen and renewable energy projects in South Australia.

Under the Act, which is now under consultation:

  • Government owned land and waters where renewable energy projects can be hosted will be identified by the South Australian Government
  • Companies will compete for licences to access government owned land and waters to deliver these projects
  • New, fit for purpose licensing arrangements will be established for projects across all land types, enabling regulation of the whole project life cycle
  • First Nations people’s rights and interests will be considered early and throughout the regulatory processes
  • A framework will ensure that developments are delivered with net environmental benefit
  • Requirements will be put in place to ensure land is rehabilitated and returned to pre-existing conditions
  • Multiple land use provisions will be sought to deliver fair outcomes for landowners, communities, and other pre-existing land rights holders

The new Act will streamline processes for companies wanting to invest in large-scale hydrogen and renewable energy projects, into a single regulatory process covering the entire project lifecycle.

The Act will facilitate secure land access, social and environmental benefits and put First Nations people at the centre of the transformation, in line with leading environment, social and governance requirements. The South Australian Government has said this will achieve a fair transition and reduce risk for investors.

Currently, there are a number of acts covering renewable energy projects, including the Electricity Act 1996, Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000, Landscapes SA Act 2019, Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, Gas Act 1997 and Harbors and Navigations Act 1993.

Mr Malinauskas said South Australia is already a world leader when it comes to renewable energy and making it as easy as possible for companies to invest in the state.

“In just over 15 years, the state has transformed its energy source from one per cent to more than 70 per cent renewable energy,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“Now we need to take the next step to increase the renewable share even further.”

South Australia Minister for Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, said with growing international demand for clean fuels from renewable sources, including hydrogen, South Australia is well-positioned to provide globally significant opportunities in the net zero transition.

“Our Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act sends a clear message to investors that we are open for business when it comes to renewable and hydrogen projects,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

South Australian residents have been asked to have their say on the draft Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act. All feedback will be considered and will be used to inform a Bill that will be introduced to Parliament later in 2023.

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