Australian news, and some related international items

Victoria’s ambitious renewable energy plan launched by Al Gore

Gore power to you: former vice-president launches Victoria’s green energy plan, Adam Carey, 13 July 17, 

New battery storages that can deliver four hours of power to two regional Victorian towns of 100,000 people, and a solar farm that would power more than 400 trams are key projects in Victoria’s new plan to increase renewable energy supply and reduce reliance on burning coal.

The battery will be up and running by this summer, the state government says, and will provide at least 40 megawatts of power in western Victoria, where the electricity network is relatively weak, boosting reliability in towns including Bendigo, Horsham, Ararat, Red Cliffs and Kerang.

Proposals that Bendigo or Ballarat lose electricity during a record-breaking east coast heatwave in February to guarantee power to NSW were angrily rejected by Victoria’s energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who told the Australian Energy Market Operator “it was absolutely not appropriate that Victoria had to pay consequences for failures in New South Wales”.

Victoria’s roll-out of renewable energy supply has gained extra urgency since the April closure of the Hazelwood coal-fuelled generator, which provided 20 per cent of the state’s baseload power supply.

Tenders for the $25 million project are being evaluated by the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning, and is part of a nationwide embrace of battery energy, including Tesla founder Elon Musk’s commitment this month to build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia.

Grid-scale batteries can store renewable energy to be used at times of peak demand, improving energy security and shielding consumers from severe price spikes.

The Andrews Government announced on Thursday its plan to spend $146 million on a series of renewable energy initiatives in a bid to meet its target of 40 per cent green energy for the state by 2025.

The renewable energy action plan, launched by former US vice-president Al Gore, will underpin the state’s attempt to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

It includes $48.1 million for the purchase of renewable energy certificates, much of which will go towards solar power for Melbourne’s trams.

A 75mw solar farm that will power Melbourne’s 410 trams is due to open in the state’s north-west late next year. The powering of Melbourne’s tram network with solar energy is notional. Electricity from the solar farm will flow into the general power supply and the government will purchase renewable energy certificates for 35mw of power, which is enough to operate the city’s tram system.

The plan also features $8 million for small-scale “micro-grid” initiatives to create power at a local level, independent of the energy grid.

Mr Gore said the renewable energy plan was a “highly impressive” example of a state taking the initiative to create jobs through projects that will cut carbon emissions.

“All over the world there has been a dramatic change in the marketplace, with electricity generated with renewable sources falling below the cost of electricity generated by fossil fuels,” Mr Gore said.

Before taking a short ride on an E-Class tram, Mr Gore predicted Melbourne’s solar-powered trams “will become a symbol of the renewable energy revolution worldwide”.

Energy and Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the renewable energy plan “represents the most significant government investment in renewable energy in Victoria’s history”.

She said the plan would also drive down power prices for Victorians, who face a 15 to 20 per cent hike in their power bills from January 1.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the global economy was moving away from coal-generated power and Victoria had no option but to head in the same direction.

“When we stand still at a national level we are actually taking Australians backwards,” she said.

“The only investment that is occurring globally in new generation is around renewable energy.”

The government’s launch of a new renewable energy plan follows recent comments by Ms D’Ambrosio that Victoria might work with other states and set a renewable energy target to the exclusion of the Turnbull government.

The Turnbull government has not committed to a renewable energy target, despite it being one of the recommendations of the Finkel review it commissioned into Australia’s energy needs.

State energy ministers are due to meet with federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg this week, however, Mr Frydenberg has signalled there will be no resolution on a clean energy target for Australia at the meeting, because the federal cabinet is still debating the issue.


July 14, 2017 - Posted by | energy, Victoria

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