Coalition governments holding back renewable energy

New South Wales might be Australia’s only mainland state or territory with a Coalition government and energy minister, but that hasn’t stopped it from having high renewables and emissions reduction ambitions of its own.

Its Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan – unveiled as part of the NSW 2050 zero emissions target last October – openly canvasses a scenario where the state doubles its level of renewable energy to more than 10,000MW.

And NSW’s new energy minister Don Harwin confirmed that target.

“Our aspirational objective is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” he said. “I believe it is feasible to double the state’s renewable energy capacity over the life of the (CCF) Plan (which goes to 2021).”

Now, there is open talk that NSW will soon launch the first of two renewable energy auctions that will seek bids for a “contract for difference” (or CfD). There are suggestions that this could total 1,200GWh of renewable energy, equivalent to around 500MW of wind and solar capacity.


“The Renewable Energy Target is of great importance to the NSW government and we are currently looking at ways to grow renewable energy, which will boost and diversify the state’s electricity supply and increase energy security,” Harwin said, adding that the state was also looking to attract new technologies.

“To keep our energy supply reliable we need more advanced energy technologies being brought to market such as solar thermal, large-scale battery storage and smart grid systems.”

The signs of interest are already evident. Last week, Transgrid said that expressions of interest representing 6,000MW of large-scale solar plants had been received. Of course, not all will be built, but much will. Transgrid sees the grid in 2050 being 65 per cent large-scale renewables, and 30 per cent local generation (namely rooftop solar and storage).

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Giles Parkinson