Communities can play a leading role in driving Victorian renewables boom
Community groups that want to own and run their own clean-energy projects have welcomed higher renewable energy targets announced by the Victorian Government today.
Across the country, 80 groups are trying to design and build their own renewable-energy projects including solar-powered breweries and dairy farms, bioenergy hubs and energy efficiency programs. However, red tape and a lack of legal and technical expertise are holding them back. This includes 28 groups in Victoria.
The Victorian government already supports community power through the New Energy Jobs Fund, but new Victorian Renewable Energy Targets of 25 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025 are expected to:
- Double Victoria’s wind power generation capacity by 2020.
- Triple Victoria’s installed renewable energy generation capacity—making the state a national leader.
- Produce the equivalent 1.3 Hazelwood’s worth of energy by 2025, thanks to 5,400 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity.
- Reduce the electricity sector greenhouse gases by 12 percent by 2034.
- By 2025 Victoria will produce enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 6.5 ACTs (Australian Capital Territory).
- Attract an estimated $2.5 billion worth of investment to Victoria.
- Create an estimated 10,000 jobs between the commencement of the program and 2025.
According to Nicky Ison of Community Power Agency: “Poll after poll demonstrate that voters love renewable energy – and that popularity is even higher when it comes to community-owned projects.
“From inner-city Melbourne to rural Victoria and everywhere in between there are community energy groups springing up full of volunteers devoting thousands of hours on exciting, innovative projects. With two of the three major political parties now backing their efforts community power, plus the Victorian government, community power is really hitting the mainstream.”
Steve Turnock, of Melbourne Community Power, said the group had been working hard to get projects off the ground but regulations were complex.
“There’s a big future for community renewables in Australia. Community power provides so many local economic and social benefits, as well as putting clean energy into the grid. That’s why these kinds of innovative projects deserve greater support,” he said.
Marcy Faith, of Moreland Community Solar, said getting access to crucial seed funding and affordable legal and technical expertise was crucial: “The time is right for community action on renewable energy.”
Ms Ison said Coalition-held seats including Corangamite in Victoria stood to benefit the most from such a policy, with community energy groups already active in those electorates.
“Modelling shows that for every $1 the next government spends on community energy it can unlock up to $17 of community investment. That’s why community energy is something that should be supported by all sides of politics. It’s a win-win-win: good for the environment, good for local economies and helps address social issues such as energy affordability.”
Community energy groups in Victoria are available for interviews. Media inquiries: Dinah on 0425 791 394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.