South Australia's Labor government wants to be a leader in renewable energy and wants more wind farms to do it.

SA has more than half of Australia's wind farms and they provided 26 per cent of the state's electricity last year, up from 18 per cent in 2010, and less than one per cent just five years ago.

The Liberals say Labor's renewable energy push is driving up electricity prices.

Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond seized on a report this week from the Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA), whose members include BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and BlueScope Steel, that says SA power is the third most expensive in the world after Denmark and Germany.


"We know that Denmark has more wind power than any other electricity market and Germany has the highest level of solar photovoltaics. The South Australian Labor government has pushed both of these technologies here," Ms Redmond said.

"When Labor's carbon tax is introduced in July this year, the average power bill is tipped to rise by $150, which will make South Australian electricity prices the world's highest."

But the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA), whose members include CitiPower, Energex, InterGen, Origin and TRU energy, says the EUAA report she was citing is "sensationalist".

ESAA chief Matthew Warren said it was designed for "shock and awe" value rather than to help find solutions to rising energy prices.

"We all know energy bills have been rising and they will increase further in the future," Mr Warren said.

"But many of the claims in this report are inaccurate or exaggerated.

"The reality is Australia doesn't have the most expensive energy prices in the world."

He says structural changes across the energy sector are driving up prices.


That's the upgrading of ageing networks and infrastructure, continued increases in peak demand, a shift to lower emissions energy technologies and increases in the cost of fuels.

A spokesman for SA Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, cited the same reasons for price rises and said renewable energy certificates allowed SA to recover the additional cost of operating wind farms.

He said SA's climate included extremely hot weather for only a few days of the year so it had the "peakiest" demand profile of any state.

"That can result in nearly double the average demand," he said.

More people were putting in airconditioning meaning higher demand for electricity on very hot days, he said.

"To provide secure and reliable electricity supply during these periods, investment in both network and generation has been required," he said.

Unlike other states, SA also uses more gas-fired electricity generation which costs more than coal.

EnergyQuest chief Graeme Bethune says SA is using more wind power partly due to the resource itself, because, unlike parts of Queensland and NSW, the state is very windy.

But it is also being pushed by the renewable energy targets of the federal and state government.

"The state government has been keen to make SA a leading place for wind power. Twenty-six per cent is certainly up there in the world rankings for wind contribution," he said.

"The theory was always that wind is very intermittent, so it wouldn't displace baseload power and would need to be backed up. But in fact that doesn't seem to be the case."

SA has committed to increasing its target of renewable energy production to 33 per cent by 2020, having already reached the 2014 target of 20 per cent and a large part of this is expected to come from more wind farms.

They are reportedly unpopular but a CSIRO report in January found there was stronger community support for wind farms across Australia than suggested by media coverage.

It found rural residents often backed the developments but did not seek media attention or political engagement to express their views.

SA Attorney-General John Rau says he believes there is considerable support in the state's rural communities for wind farm developments and is considering public submissions on draft rules for wind farms which would allow turbines to be as close as one kilometre from a home, or closer if the home owner agrees.

Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond says a future Liberal government would ban new wind turbines being within two kilometres of existing homes.

She would also protect nearby landowners from economic losses caused by restrictions on aerial spraying and cropdusting, and would help develop national guidelines on wind farm locations and noise emissions.

So far about $2.8 billion has been invested in wind power in South Australia, creating more than 3000 direct and indirect jobs.