ACT Labor has unveiled an ambitious plan to source 90 per cent of the Territory’s power from renewable sources by 2020.
The ACT Climate Change Strategy outlines steps to achieving the Government’s target of a 40 per cent reduction in Canberra’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and carbon neutrality by 2060.
It builds on the Weathering the Change draft action plan unveiled late last year.
The strategy includes a mix of large scale wind and solar projects, a greater reliance on public transport and boosting energy efficiency in houses and buildings.
Environment Minister Simon Corbell says alternative energy sources can cut nearly $1.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
“The strategy highlights that solar and wind can be deployed not just in the ACT but particularly in the capital region, the local government areas surrounding the ACT, as a way of powering our city and reducing our reliance on fossil fuel energy,” he said.
The strategy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emission in four key areas:
218,000 tonnes through improved energy efficiency of households.
181,000 tonnes through improved energy efficiency in commercial office sector.
138,000 tonnes through improvements to public transport.
1.471 million tonnes through large-scale solar and wind projects.
It is the first time the wind farms have been included in the ACT Government’s energy consumption plans.
“Right now over 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy is being assessed for potential wind projects in the surrounding capital region,” Mr Corbell said.
“They could play a very important role in powering the ACT and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Mr Corbell says the plan will be introduced in stages and includes measures to minimise the cost to households.
He says the Government’s energy efficiency improvement scheme aims to save more than 77,000 households about $300 by 2015.
“Overall the assessment suggests that once we take into account savings from transport fuel emissions as well, we expect a net benefit to households, that is a savings to households, by the year 2020,” he said.
Dr James Prest from the ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy has welcomed the plan.
“It’s a fantastically ambitious target,” he said.
“However the question really is the detail of how it’s going to be achieved and how it’s going to be paid for either by Government or by electricity consumers.”
Dr Prest says the target is achievable.
“The amount of electricity used in the ACT is not massive,” he said.
“We have plenty of roof space available and there’s a great solar resource, and there’s a great wind resource around the Territory.
“If we buy wind energy from outside the Territory, certainly this could be achieved.”
The Canberra Liberals have dismissed the plan as expensive and unachievable.
Leader Zed Seselja says it will cost Canberrans hundreds of dollars and cannot be done.
“We’ve seen electricity double in the last decade and now they want to add another $500 as a result of a 90 per cent target when the rest of the country has a 20 per cent target,” he said.
“We need to be reasonable with our policies in this area. We can’t keep placing massive burdens on households as Labor is seeking to do.”