Win for renewable energy

The State Government says there will be thousands of jobs created in the renewable energy sector within less than a decade.

The prediction comes amid its new renewable energy target of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.

The targets – announced in a visit to the Ararat Wind Farm last week – have been welcomed by the likes of Environment Victoria and Voices of the Valley. But on Friday Latrobe Valley power station owners were calling for more detail.

“Policies that support the decarbonisation of the Victorian generation sector are welcome, but it is critical the policy provides a clear pathway for a stable and orderly transition,” an AGL spokesperson said.

“It is important that all states work with the Commonwealth on a national plan for an orderly retirement of high emitting ageing thermal infrastructure.”

The government anticipates up to 5400 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy capacity could be built in the state by 2025, representing an estimated $2.5 billion of investment.

It will run an auctions scheme that involves a series of technology-neutral and solar auctions, in which project developers will compete to become ‘the lowest cost provider’.

When asked whether there’d be a requirement for such projects to occur in the Latrobe Valley, a spokesperson for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio didn’t say.

“Projects are expected to be located in places with the best renewable energy resources,” the spokesperson told The Express.

“This will ensure that the targets are met at the lowest cost to consumers.”

The spokesperson said the terms of the auction system were yet to be finalised, following consultation with industry and community.

“However, the government will be looking for opportunities to ensure local content in projects and suppliers based in Gippsland will benefit from that,” the spokesperson said.

“The government remains committed to diversifying the Latrobe Valley economy and growing future industries, with $40 million allocated in the 2016-17 State Budget for initiatives such as a Morwell Hi-Tech precinct, a Skills for the Future training program and investment attraction grants.”

A spokesperson from EnergyAustralia said the company supported action that addressed climate change at the lowest cost to customers while maintaining reliable supply.

“As we’ve said consistently, we need an orderly, realistic transition from large, older coal-fired power stations,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said any plan for such a transition must deliver “reliable, affordable and fair access to clean energy”, reduce generation from some older, fossil-fired power stations “so that we lower carbon emissions and make space for renewable energy”, and the plan should create an electricity market that encourages investment in cleaner forms of energy.

“Naturally, we will engage with the government on its renewable energy plans with the aim of getting a detailed understanding and analysis of the full costs to consumers.”

When asked whether ENGIE – joint owner of Hazelwood and Loy Yang B – would consider taking part in the government’s auctions scheme, a spokesperson said the company was not in a position to comment. However, the spokesperson said the company was awaiting further details regarding the State Government’s plans and would assess those for opportunities in Australia.