The NSW government has promised to triple the amount of energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels in NSW over the next eight years, at no extra cost to the public.
Its draft “renewable energy action” plan, released this morning, confirms its existing commitment to a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, up from about 8 per cent today, but claims this can be done mainly with money from private investors.
At a press conference this morning, the Energy Minister, Chris Hartcher, ducked four questions asking how many new wind turbines were required.
Wind power generates about 652 gigawatt hours of energy in NSW, but that would be lifted to something closer to 8000 gigawatt hours under the government’s plan – which means thousands more turbines dotting rural landscapes.
“Building a strong renewable energy industry is vital to supporting employment and helping grow the NSW economy,” Mr Hartcher said.
“We have heard loud and clear that people are fed up with soaring electricity prices, which is why consumers have been front of mind in developing this plan.”
The plan lists 28 “actions” that it said would contribute to achieving the 20 per cent renewable energy target – some of which are repackaged, existing announcements, such as state government support for a large solar farm near Nyngan in the state’s west.
The action points include ways of better energy network connections so that large-scale solar power projects can be connected to the grid, and the appointment of a dedicated “renewable energy advocate” to streamline negotiations over new renewable investment and facilitate connections to the power grid.
The government is also reviewing wind farm planning guidelines, to make more “strategic” wind farm approvals, and will release a new energy efficiency strategy, that will involve reappraising all existing energy efficiency programs.
It will ask the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to come up with a “fair” tariff price for solar panel rebates to replace the solar bonus scheme.
Up to 6000 jobs could be created in the renewable energy sector by 2020, particularly in regional NSW, Mr Hartcher said.
The state government still wants to abolish the federal government’s carbon price or, failing that, scrap the federal mandatory 20 per cent renewable energy target, which has bipartisan support in Canberra.
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