Adelaide, the coastal capital of South Australia, is the fifth largest city in the country (although the centre of the city, administered by the Adelaide City Council, is only around 3 km2). The city currently ranks in the Top 10 in the Economist's "World's Most Liveable Cities", with the economy mainly based in manufacturing, particularly defence and automotive. The median individual income is relatively low at around AUS 19 000/yr but Adelaide's housing and living costs are substantially lower than in other Australian cities. In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the population which in turn has increased the demand for energy and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions have increased significantly since 1994. In addition Adelaide has greater peak electricity supply problems and higher average domestic electricity prices than other major Australian cities.

There is overlap in the policies and programmes between the State of South Australia (with around 75% of the 1.6 million population living in Adelaide), the greater metropolitan Adelaide, and the smaller City of Adelaide. For the latter, the Capital City Committee established the "Adelaide Green City Programme" in 2002 aiming to create a better, more sustainable and environmentally friendly city and to be recognised internationally as a green city by 2010. In 2003, urban ecologist Herbert Girardet was commissioned to give policy advice on achieving these goals and all 33 of his recommendations have now been implemented.

The City Council's "Carbon Neutral Action Plan 2008-2012" set a goal of reaching zero net greenhouse gas emissions in buildings by 2012 and in transport by 2020. Projects initiated in the first year of implementation resulted in 6 000 tCO2 emission reductions. A CHP plant is to be installed at the Aquatic Centre which will halve current GHG emissions. Other community projects include encouraging cycling, providing assistance to improve the environmental sustainability of businesses, and providing incentives to city residents to install solar systems. Energy efficiency audits for homes and businesses have been conducted and smart meters are being installed in homes that wish to participate.

Several policies and initiatives of the South Australian state government complement the goals set by the city. These include the State Strategic Plan target to support "the development of renewable energy so that it comprises 33% of the state's electricity production and consumption by 2020", currently at 14.7% of production and 16.3% of total consumption (due to imports of electricity from other states). Over half the national total capacity of wind power is located in the state with 740 MW installed and a further 128 MW under construction. A feed-in tariff for small scale solar PV introduced in 2008 has resulted in the number of systems expanding from 1 500 to 8 000 by mid-2009. Under the new Building Innovation Fund, five projects have been funded for 2009/2010 that implement innovative renewable energy and energy efficient technologies for commercial buildings. Rebates for solar water heaters and energy efficiency measures are also offered.

In June 2009 the Premier of South Australia announced the establishment of "Renewables SA" along with an AUS 20M fund to accelerate investment in the sector by fostering innovation and creating green jobs. The first project funded was the establishment of a Centre for Geothermal Research because South Australia has attracted over 90% of the national R&D investment in geothermal systems, drilling techniques and exploration since 2002. Hoping to help make Adelaide the global centre for renewable energy policy and research, University College, London, opened an overseas campus in 2009 with a focus on urban energy and resources.

Other initiatives involve improved pedestrian routes and access; more bus stops to better suit people of limited mobility; adding the newest environmentally friendly, hybrid automobiles to the government fleet; establishing an Office of Cycling and Walking; installing more than 10 km of on-road bicycle lanes and more than 6 km off-road bicycle paths; and doubling the number of bicycle lockers provided at railway stations and transport interchanges. These are not directly involved with renewable energy so will not be discussed further here.

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