Keen to ensure that the state gets a share of an estimated $36 billion clean energy investment fund, NSW has reaffirmed its intention to meet the country’s 20 per cent renewable energy target.
The state government has released a new draft of its own Renewable Energy Action Plan, with 28 key actions to encourage investment. It sees a strong renewable energy policy as crucial in supporting employment, growing the state’s economy and winning over voters unhappy with rising electricity costs.
NSW Energy Minister,Chris Hartcher said that an estimated 6,000 jobs could be created from renewable energy investments, adding that he is keen to attract more projects to the state such as the 160-megawatt solar PV plant being built by AGL Energy and First Solar at Broken Hill and Nyngan.
With $10 billion also available through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to support the development of emerging technologies, the incentives are clear.
The government is keen to fast-track the energy efficiency plan, which it estimates could save 16,000GWh of electricity by 2020 and $2.8 billion from electricity costs.
However, Hartcher said that “only the best value” for money solutions would be adopted with “consumers…front of mind in the development of (the) Plan.”
Some of the key goals of the plan include:
- Improving network connections,
- Streamlining planning processes,
- Establishing a fair price for solar,
- Promoting community-owned energy projects,
- Developing more renewable energy hubs and precincts
About six per cent of the state’s total electricity usage is provided from renewable energy source, with 88 per cent coming from hydro, five per cent from biomass, five per cent from landfill methane and one per cent apiece from wind and solar.
NSW’s current focus for renewable energy centres around the large number of hydro plants in the Snowy Mountains, but the draft plans states interest in developing more wind energy projects with 2,000 megwatts of proposals already in the pipeline and another 6,700 megawatts under consideration.
Another area under review is the solar photovoltaic market, especially in the mid-scale range, where it is becoming easier and more cost-effective for industrial, commercial and community rooftops to have installed.
Infigen Energy’s Capital East Solar Farm, a one megawatt solar PV facility with storage in Bungendore which is about to begin construction, is a prime example of this. The government said it was keen to support more of these types of projects and will work with the industry to identify appropriate commercial sites.
The Greens and the opposition, however, have thrown cold water on the plans.
“The goal is realistic but the plan is a dud,” Greens MP John Kaye said. “Without a commitment to lowering the barriers that are stunting wind and solar investment, cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and the tens of thousands of new jobs will be nothing but a pipe dream.”
Opposition leader John Robertson, meanwhile, called the plan “laughable,” adding that he feels it is “light on detail because the premier (Barry O’Farrell) hates renewable energy.”