The Victorian Labor Party announced on Thursday that, if re-elected in the upcoming State election, it would increase the state’s Renewable Energy Target to 50% by 2030 in a move intended to create thousands of jobs, increase renewable energy in the state grid, increase investment, and drive down energy prices.
Victoria is the second-largest (by population) state in Australia and, of late, has begun to make headway as a national leader in renewable energy, joining its western neighbor South Australia in efforts to increase investment in and support for renewable energy. Even a vague understanding of Australian politics at the moment will set you in good stead to understand that the Federal and State Liberal Parties (which, again, for the uninitiated, is in no way a progressive liberal party) are hell-bent on ensuring that renewable energy gets as little support as possible, and the fossil fuel industry continues benefiting from millions in subsidies and political support.
However, as is becoming a trend around the world, a renewable energy drive need not only rely on federal or national government policies — as we have seen in the United States, and as we are seeing in Australia. Specifically, State Governments are now beginning to take the lead and ensuring that, regardless of the current ruling party’s preferences, Australia makes strong ground on achieving a passable Paris commitment.
At the end of 2017, Victoria’s Labor Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, determined that the minimum statewide renewable energy capacity target for 2020 was 6,341 megawatts (MW). This stems from the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025. By the end of June 2018, Victoria could boast 5,345 MW worth of installed capacity.
Victorian renewable electricity generation capacity, 2014 to 2018
Speaking on Thursday, Lily D’Ambrosio announced that, if the Labor Party is re-elected in the upcoming November 24 State election, it would expand the VRET to 50% by 2030. The VRET is already expected to deliver approximately AU$9 billion worth of investment and create 11,000 jobs over the lifetime of the scheme, as well as deliver up to 5,400 MW worth of new, large-scale renewable energy capacity by 2025. According to the Labor Party, “In four short years, 732 MW of new renewable energy capacity has been built, and more than 3,000 MW of renewable capacity is under construction or contracted to be built.”
“Labor’s VRET has helped create a jobs boom and boosting it further will see even more jobs created across our state,” said D’Ambrosio. “The last Liberal Government smashed our renewable energy sector and the Liberals are promising to do it again by axing VRET if they’re given the chance.”
“Only Labor will deliver our ambitious renewable energy targets, creating new jobs and investment for the future, and driving down power prices for Victorian families and businesses.”
The election promise was unsurprisingly welcomed by Australia’s renewable energy industry and community.
“WWF welcomes the commitment by the Victorian government to expand the renewable energy target to 50% by 2030,” said Statement of Monica Richter, Senior Manager – Low Carbon Futures, WWF-Australia. “This brings it in line with commitments made by state counterparts in Queensland and the Northern Territory and the Federal Labor party’s commitment if it is elected. These targets are ambitious but quite achievable given the current levels of investment in solar and wind.
“Also the Business Renewables Centre – Australia to be formally launched in Sydney on Monday, and in Victoria later in the year, has a goal of delivering 5 GW of new renewable energy by 2030. This is equivalent to about 13,500 GWhs per annum or about 30% of Victoria’s annual load. We look forward to working with Australian businesses and buyers to transition to a clean renewable energy future.”
“This is sensible policy,” added Andrew Bray, National Coordinator for the Australian Wind Alliance. “It acknowledges the reality that Victoria’s coal plants will continue to shut and the cheapest replacements will be wind and solar. A 50% renewable target reassures Victorian consumers there is a plan in place to deliver lower prices through guaranteed supply of low-cost wind and solar.
“It’s of great concern that the Opposition plans to remove this target if elected. At this stage, they’ve failed demonstrate to Victorians how they will manage the rising cost of fossil fuel generation.”