Victoria sets 20 per cent renewables target

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews

The Victorian Andrews Government has released a Renewable Energy Roadmap for the state that sets a target of at least 20 per cent of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020.

The roadmap also commits the state government to using its purchasing power to support clean energy projects, and sets out mechanisms for supporting distributed local renewable energy generation and growing jobs and investment in both generation and storage technologies.

The government also launched an initiative to source renewable energy certificates from new projects in Victoria, bringing forward around $200 million of new investment in renewables. It expects that around 1000 direct and indirect jobs will be created during the construction of the new projects, with most of the new jobs based in regional Victoria.

Two other key priorities identified in the roadmap are ending unfair discrimination and improving access to the grid for solar customers, and supporting clean energy jobs through a $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund.

“Renewable energy means jobs. Our plan puts us on course to build more projects and drive growth,” premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Victoria has world-class renewable resources. We will use them to make our state an industry leader.”

Minister for energy Lily D’Ambrosio said the road map would “keep Victoria on course to achieve 20 per cent of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020”.

According to data in the report, currently brown coal generation accounts for 84 per cent of Victoria’s electricity generation, gas generates four per cent, solar two per cent, wind five per cent, hydro three per cent and bioenergy two per cent.

So the 20 per cent target effectively means a nine per cent drop in the share of electricity generation coming from coal or gas, rather than a major and rapid phasing out of dirty power stations.

The announcement was welcomed by Environment Victoria and the Clean Energy Council.

“State government is one of the largest users of energy in Victoria, so today’s announcement is very welcome,” chief executive of Environment Victoria Mark Wakeham said. “Using government energy contracts to drive the construction of new renewable energy projects makes a lot of sense.

“Victoria has 2489 megawatts of wind farms with planning approval. Today’s announcement is a good first step, kick-starting work on the construction of 100MW of new wind turbines in the next six months, which will also generate new clean energy jobs and investment in regional Victoria.”

Mr Wakeham said EV would be urging the Andrews Government to set a date for decarbonising the Victorian economy and then setting its renewable energy targets to follow suit.

“The sooner we move to pollution-free energy the better for Victorians, both in terms of the environment but also through reaping the jobs and investment benefits of being a clean energy front-runner,” he said.

Clean Eenergy Council policy manager Alicia Webb said the states that moved to create an appealing investment environment for renewable energy were best-positioned to achieve economic gains from the $40 billion worth of investment and 15,200 jobs available under the federal Renewable Energy Target.

“While the RET is a great start, Victoria has recognised that there is plenty of scope to go above and beyond the national target and build a smarter, cleaner, more modern economy,” Ms Webb said.

“When Australia’s brown coal capital recognises the potential of clean energy jobs and investment for the state’s future, it is a sign that change to a more modern energy system is inevitable – the main questions remaining are how fast the transition will happen and how that process can best be managed.

“The roadmap also addresses important areas such as difficulties in connecting renewable energy generation to the grid, encouraging solar in public housing, and the recognition that the full economic and environmental benefits of solar, distributed energy and storage have not yet been fully acknowledged.”

The Victorian Government is seeking public submissions on the roadmap until 30 September 2015.

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