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Adelaide, South Australia: Revolutionary Leader In 2030

Editor’s Note: This article is one submission in a live Masdar blogging contest (find out the entry requirements here). Very simply, the focus of the contest submissions is to: “Describe your city in 2030: what will occur due to changes in energy, transportation and water technologies, and how will they transform how you live?” We are sharing this submission here on CleanTechnica because we think it’s awesome and because Masdar is sponsoring CleanTechnica in order to raise awareness about this great competition. I have personally engaged in the contest in previous years, and I hope one of our readers wins this year since it would be great to meet you in Abu Dhabi!

The late afternoon sunlight falls into solar panels surrounding me on the roof of the apartment block. There’s nothing particularly special about the panels. They look no different from many I see on city roofs all around me and they look little different from the day I installed them 15 years ago. But they are part of something that has changed our relationship with energy and so changed the world. And Adelaide in South Australia was the city that led the world in this revolution.

As is typical for great revolutions, it caught most people by surprise. Even 15 years ago many doubted that rooftop solar would ever supply the majority of our daytime electricity, but by the start of 2015, one quarter of Adelaide homes had a solar power system and at that time it was common for rooftop solar to provide one third of all electricity use in the middle of the day. In 2022, Adelaide was the first city in the world to ever meet all of its noontime electricity demand with rooftop solar. And now, as it is common for home and business solar power systems to include energy storage, with the state’s wind power and other renewable generating capacity, we’ve almost eliminated fossil fuels from electricity generation.

Our rooftop solar capacity means that electricity is usually almost free during the day and this has been very useful for Adelaide’s desalination plant, which has operated at high capacity during the two terrible droughts we’ve had over the past decade and a half. We’ve also increased the percentage of water reclaimed from sewage from 25% in 2014 to almost 50% currently. The sewage plants run off of cheap solar power in the day and this allows the methane they produce to help meet electricity demand during the evening. The biosludge left over from processing sewage has long been available for free to farmers and now some of it is converted into biodiesel for use by ships at Port Adelaide.

But I don’t have time to stand on the rooftop and muse about these things. I’ve got to get to my girlfriend’s birthday party in the botanical gardens. I head down the stairs and I’m so old fashioned that I still use a smartphone to hail a cab which arrives just as I get to the curb, as they usually do outside of busy periods. It is a self-driving electric taxi that the Adelaide Council recently introduced and soon it is silently and smoothly making its way past pedestrians and cyclists, pausing only for Adelaide’s now self-driving electric tram as it goes by.

I get out at the botanical gardens and the taxi electronically picks my pocket. But only lightly, as the cost of taxis has really come down now that neither drivers nor gasoline needs to be paid for. Personally, I haven’t bothered to own a car for years. Oddly enough, two of the three party planners my girlfriend hired used to be taxi drivers.

I make my way through the park gates towards the party that’s already underway. As I approach my girlfriend, I tap my glasses and she is replaced by a virtual simulation of how she looked many years ago. “Darling,” I say, “You look as beautiful as the day we met.”

 
 
 
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