The southern Australian state of Victoria has this week set the country’s most ambitious renewable energy targets of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025, at the same time as the government awarded two large-scale solar projects.
The Victorian Labor Government announced on Wednesday the introduction of the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets (VRET), the largest renewable energy auction in Australia, and the awarding of contracts for two large-scale solar projects. Australian states have had to lead the way when it comes to renewable energy development and deployment, considering the entrenched loyalty to the country’s coal industry in the Federal Government. South Australia, the western neighbor to Victoria, is one of the world’s leading renewable energy states — having already achieved its 2020 target of achieving 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources.
Victoria itself has recently been stepping up as well, and this latest raft of announcements serves to solidify the importance of renewable energy in the state’s future.
The Victorian Renewable Energy Targets, which will be introduced as legislation into State Parliament this week, will aim to set the country’s most ambitious targets of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025. Further, according to the Labor Government, the VRET is expected to cut the average cost of power for Victorians by around $30 a year for households, $2,500 a year for medium businesses, and $140,000 a year for large companies. At the same time, the VRET is expected to boost local jobs into the thousands, attract billions of dollars of investment, and drive a 16% reduction in the state’s electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2034-35.
“More renewable energy means more jobs for Victorians — that’s why we’re setting these ambitious targets and promoting investment in this growing sector,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. “Renewable energy creates jobs, drives growth, and protects our environment — and most importantly, helps drive down power prices for Victorian households and businesses.”
Stemming from the VRET will be Australia’s largest renewable energy auction, which will offer up to 650 MW (megawatts) of capacity that could provide clean electricity for the equivalent of up to 389,000 homes — or, according to the Labor Government, enough electricity to power the secondary cities of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, as well as the entire Latrobe Valley region.
Expectations are that the first auction will result in investments of up to $1.3 billion and jobs during construction of around 1,250, and ongoing jobs for around 90.
At the same time, the Victorian Government also announced the winners of a tender to build approximately 138 MW worth of new large-scale solar to help power the state capital’s tram network.
“The renewable energy sector will now have the confidence to invest in renewable energy projects and the jobs that are crucial to Victoria’s future,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio. “Government investment will be capped to ensure the best value for money for Victorian taxpayers.”