More by Dean
By Dean Rizzetti
Former Public Policy and Advocacy Manager
Header image: Keppel Prince, a wind tower manufacturer in Portland is just one of the many local businesses that would benefit from a Renewable Energy Guarantee.
The Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) has played a vital role in restoring confidence in Victoria’s renewable energy industry. However, there’s still significant uncertainty which makes it harder for local industry to invest and grow.
Our proposal for a ‘Renewable Energy Guarantee’ (REG) would ensure 1000 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy is brought online every year, and would deliver the certainty local manufacturers need.
The last four years have been big for Victoria’s renewable energy industry. The state has moved from a climate laggard to a leader in clean energy, with recent analysis confirming that Victoria will have created more jobs in large scale wind and solar than any other state.
Support for renewables has already played a significant role in the state’s upcoming election, with the Andrews government committing to repower a whopping 650,000 homes with solar and the Greens releasing a detailed plan to power Victoria with 100% renewable energy. This stands in stark contrast to the political paralysis in Canberra.
Wilson Transformer Company (WTC) won a contract to supply substations for a large-scale battery at a solar farm in Gannawarra. The substations were designed and manufactured in Wodonga. CREDIT: WTC
However, this progress is fragile. Project developers in Victoria have seen development grind to a halt before as a result of overly restrictive planning regimes and through the rolling reviews and cuts of the Federal Renewable Energy Target under Tony Abbott.
The Andrews Labor Government have gone a long way to re-building the state’s renewable energy industry. The Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) has played a vital role in restoring confidence in Victoria’s renewable energy industry and changes to wind farm setbacks unblocked a number of stalled projects.
However, there’s still significant uncertainty facing the industry.
On the Labor side, we have little detail about how the Andrews Government aims to achieve its 40% renewable energy target. While the first VRET reverse auction was five-times oversubscribed – and by all accounts delivered very competitive prices — there haven’t been any announcements about what’s next.
On the other side, the main policy being put forward by Matthew Guy’s Liberal Opposition is to scrap the VRET. This would see Victoria’s renewable industry grind to a halt.
Research released by Environment Victoria underscores the choice we’re facing. We analysed three scenarios – the current VRET, cancelling the VRET and expanding the target with what we’re calling the ‘Renewable Energy Guarantee’. Click here for the full report.
We found the Victorian Renewable Energy Target is making real progress and Victorian businesses that serve renewable energy projects are thriving. From Keppel Price in Portland to Wilsons Transformers in Wodonga, Victoria is becoming a renewable energy hub.
But we also found that the current target is not maximising the opportunities for local industry – providing insufficient medium-term demand to unlock all the projects in development or ensure that we maximise investment in manufacturing.
To overcome this, Victoria needs to deliver more certainty. This can be done through our proposal for a Renewable Energy Guarantee, which would see the Victorian government ensure that 1000 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy is brought online in Victoria every year.
The Guarantee would lock in Victoria’s position as Australia’s home of clean energy. It would unleash investment and create 12,200 new jobs, while ensuring that Victoria has a cleaner, more sustainable future.
Ararat community members support Victorian renewable energy guarantee
More than 70 community members from Ararat and surrounding regions attended the Environment Victoria and Friends of the Earth run forum to discuss the future of renewable energy in Western Victoria, including job opportunities and investment in the region.
We know that companies are ready and willing to invest once this certainly is provided. For example, Keppel Prince in Portland are ready to invest $11 million to upgrade their facilities to build the large towers that are now standard in modern wind farms. For other companies, the VRET is a vital counterweight against the Federal Coalition’s internationally renowned inaction, reassuring international boards that investments in Australia are still viable.
This November, Victoria can guarantee the future of Victoria’s renewable sector. But it will take certainty and ambition – something the renewable industry has been starved of for far too long.