The Victorian Labor Government has committed to legislate a 25 per cent renewable electricity target for 2020, which will be scaled up to 40 per cent by 2025.
The state currently draws just 14 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy resources, but the government is claiming the new targets will make it a national leader.
Victoria will initiate a series of technology-neutral reverse auction schemes, similar to those which the Australian Capital Territory has pursued with remarkable success. According to Friends of the Earth, by 2025 the Victorian Renewable Energy Target will have paved the way for clean energy that could power the smaller state more than six times over.
“The Andrews government’s targets represent the biggest renewable program in Victoria’s history,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Leigh Ewbank. “These targets will make Victoria the national leader when it comes to renewable energy, which is good news for manufacturing, regional communities, and our climate,” he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that “growing renewable energy means growing jobs,” with the state expecting 4,000 jobs to be created in the sector when construction peaks in 2024. “The world is shifting to renewable energy – it creates jobs, drives growth, and protects our environment – and Victorians want to be at the forefront of that,” Andrews said.
The renewables targets are also expected to drive a 12 per cent reduction in electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. It’s anticipated that by 2025, up to 5400 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy capacity will be built in Victoria – representing an estimated $2.5 billion of investment in the state.
Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said the targets “will see Victoria double its wind power capacity by 2020 and quadruple it by 2025, as well as supporting large-scale solar projects in the north of the state”.
“We’ve seen the ACT government successfully run auctions to guarantee the construction of renewable energy projects and Victoria will now use that same method, with auctions commencing in early 2017,” Wakeham said.
“Across the whole country, the renewable energy industry was damaged by the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s slashing of the federal Renewable Energy Target. This is the kick-start we need for new projects and job creation across Victoria,” he said.
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio said that “investors have lost faith in the national target” after it was undermined by a review commissioned during Tony Abbott’s time as Prime Minister.
The review was headed up by a climate sceptic, Dick Warburton, and was seen as a primary reason for investment in renewable energy plummeting by 88 per cent in 2014. After the review, the national target was eventually cut by about 20 per cent.
The states had given up their ability to run a similar scheme – which forces electricity retailers to buy up clean energy certificates that create demand for renewable energy and make it more cost competitive – when the Federal target was legislated.
D’Ambrosio said that by using a reverse-auction process, which essentially contracts supply from successful bidders at a set price, Victoria’s scheme would compliment the Commonwealth Renewable Energy Target while also bolstering clean energy penetration in the state.
Victoria’s renewable energy ambitions are likely to have a greater impact on total greenhouse gas emissions, but Daniel Andrews’ government is playing catch-up with its Labor counterparts.
Victoria still trails the Australian Capital Territory, which is on track to reach 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020; and South Australia is also running well ahead of its 2025 target of 50 per cent renewable electricity.
If the Federal Labor Party wins this year’s election, it has promised to pursue a national target for renewable electricity of 50 per cent by 2030. Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition is yet to announce its ambitions on renewable energy for the period after 2020.
Legislation for Victoria’s new target is expected to be introduced later this year.
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