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Cash prize on offer for carbon neutral ideas

Renewables

South Australian Government lures entrepreneurs with seed money

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A CASH prize is being offered to help an Australian capital city win the race to become the world’s first carbon neutral city.

The South Australian Government is challenging to the world’s best and brightest to help Adelaide become the world’s first carbon neutral city and it is putting up $250,000 to lure them Down Under.

The Entrepreneur’s Prize is the first initiative unveiled as part of the Adelaide to Zero Carbon Challenge – a new program aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, generating new green businesses for the state and ensuring Adelaide is a showcase city for renewables and clean technology.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill today announced details of South Australia’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur’s Prize at Carnegie Mellon University’s Energy Week conference in Pittsburgh, United States.

Mr Weatherill said a total of A$250,000 in seed funding would be on offer to the best minds – locally, nationally and internationally – to develop ideas covering energy, transport, waste and liveability.

“We want bold ideas that will help establish new jobs and new industries in South Australia while helping make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city,” Mr Weatherill said.

“This funding will help entrepreneurs flesh out their ideas, create prototypes and help get their ideas to market.”

Any successful proposal from overseas will be required to partner with a South Australian organisation to deliver their project.

About a third of South Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources. It is Australia’s biggest wind energy producing state and has the highest uptake of household rooftop solar in the nation. It also plans to reach a renewable energy production target of 50 per cent by 2025.

The start of the Adelaide to Zero Carbon Challenge follows an agreement between the State Government and the Adelaide City Council last year to make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city.

“We know that global warming threatens many existing industries and taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to minimising that damage”, Mr Weatherill said.

“South Australia already has a strong record in renewables and by positioning ourselves at the forefront of change we can attract the next wave of investment in the low carbon economy.

South Australia is part of The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance, a decade-old grouping of 35 sub-national government leaders who share expertise to influence the international climate dialogue.

The Climate Group’s States & Regions Director Libby Ferguson said that states, provinces and regions had already demonstrated in Paris their crucial role in tackling climate change on an international level and South Australia’s Entrepreneur’s prize further illustrated their role.

“Subnational governments play a crucial role in stimulating their local economies with innovative policies and initiatives,” Ferguson said. “Even when their national counterparts have not fully grasped the opportunity offered by the low carbon economy.

“The initiative launched by Premier Jay Weatherill to make Adelaide carbon neutral shows how our members of the States & Regions Alliance are making bold climate commitments that will attract talent, create new jobs and build long-term prosperity for citizens and businesses.”

Think Climate Consulting Director Ben Heard said the bid to attract innovative new ideas was a move in the right direction towards carbon neutrality.

“For a very long time government money has supported the penetration of technologies such as solar that have already been developed and are reasonably mature from a research and development point of view,” Heard said.

“We actually need to move forward with new concepts and ideas.”

Heard, whose company is based in South Australia, said new innovations would play a key role in reducing the amount of offsets required over time for Adelaide to become a carbon neutral city.

He said the high uptake of wind and solar energy in South Australia had in recent years cut carbon emissions to about 500 grams of greenhouse gas an hour from 900.

“Ideally you want to get that down to 50, but to get from 500 down to 50 we’re going to need different kinds of technologies to handle that.

“Credit to us with what we’ve done with renewable energies to now, we can probably do a little bit more but we are going to need new and innovative technologies that won’t be finished with wind and solar PV.”

Participants in the Entrepreneur’s Prize have until May 30 to register their ideas at adelaidetozero.yoursay.sa.gov.au

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