Victoria will aim to generate at least 20 per cent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2020, the Andrews Government has said.
The target has been set out in a government “road map” for the industry to encourage more investment in cleaner technologies like wind and solar energy.
It establishes a minimum renewable energy target of 20 per cent by the end of the decade, which is slightly lower than the national goal of about 23 per cent.
At present, about 12 per cent of Victorian power comes from renewable energy.
The Government has asked for community feedback on what the 2020 and 2025 targets should be, as part of public consultation for its broader renewable energy plan.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the Government would also bring forward the building of about 100 megawatts of wind energy, by sourcing renewable energy certificates from new projects in Victoria.
“We think that’s about $200 million worth of investment, or 50 new wind turbine towers across regional parts of our state,” Mr Andrews said.
“If we can do better, believe me, we will.”
The Government said the projects would create about 1,000 jobs in regional Victoria.
Victorians ‘betrayed’ by Federal Government policy
Uncertainty around the national renewable energy target has deterred investment in the sector, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott describing wind farms as “visually awful” and noisy.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has also told the Victorian Premier he “cannot stand the things”.
Mr Andrews said the industry had been abandoned.
“The renewable energy sector and the thousands of Victorians and Australians whose livelihoods depend upon it were betrayed with very bad policy, forgotten and left behind,” he said.
“That’s not good enough, we’ve got a very different set of priorities.”
But Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said Mr Andrews was effectively endorsing the Federal Government’s cut to the renewable energy target.
“We haven’t got time to waste and we can’t look at small, incremental targets,” he said.
“One hundred megawatts isn’t much when you consider the 2,800 megawatts that are sitting there ready to go, waiting for the proper incentives from a government, whether it be state or federal.”
Mr Barber said a 100 per cent target was desirable, along with a mechanism to shut Victoria’s coal-fired power stations.
Renewable plan ‘to put a stride in people’s step’
The state’s wind energy sector has been struggling since the former Napthine government gave landowners the power in 2010 to veto wind farms within two kilometres of their properties.
The Andrews Government reduced the buffer to one kilometre in March.
“I’m very sorry if someone is upset about the view from their beach house, but leadership’s about a bit more than that,” Mr Andrews said.
But crossbench Senator John Madigan said the remark was condescending.
“There aren’t that many wind farms that come with a beach view,” he said.
“Predominantly they are in rural Victoria, and people in rural Victoria, as people in Brunswick or Fitzroy are, entitled to get a decent night’s sleep, they’re entitled to live in peace in their home.”
Mr Andrews made the announcement at wind turbine manufacturer Keppel Prince Engineering in Portland, which was forced to lay off 100 staff last year.
General manager Steve Garner said the company expected to re-hire 40 people by the end of the year.
“Everyone’s had long chins and things have been looking gloomy for quite some time,” he said.
“Something like today is certainly going to put a stride in everyone’s step.”
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