NSW Government announces major expansion into renewable energy

The New South Wales Coalition government has broken ranks with its federal counterpart and announced a major expansion into large and small-scale renewable energy, as well as electric vehicles and energy efficiency, as part of a new plan to reach “zero net emissions” by 2050.

The state says it will issue more government power purchase agreements to ensure more wind and solar farms are built in the state, and will provide incentives for electric vehicles such as government contracts, cheaper stamp duty and lower registration.

In a new strategic plan unveiled on Thursday, NSW has flagged state-based initiatives to build 500MW of large-scale renewable energy, including an ACT-style tender for 250MW of new renewables to operate under a competitive tender for “contracts for difference.”

It will also issue more government power purchase agreements such as the 50MW of power purchase agreements, such as those allocated for solar farms in the recent ARENA tender.

It says these should initiatives should encourage even more capacity, and it optimistically predicts it can double the amount of renewable energy capacity between now and 2021/22 to nearly 10,000MW, including a significant increase in rooftop solar.

The NSW policy document comes on the eve of the Paris climate agreement coming into force (November 4) – some three years before anyone has anticipated. That effectively locks developed countries into achieving zero net emissions well before 2050, as the Climate Change Authority recently pointed out.

But it also comes at a sensitive time in federal politics. The Turnbull Coalition government has used the recent blackout in South Australia as an excuse to try and force state Labor governments in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and the ACT and the Northern Territory to drop their own more ambitious renewable energy schemes.

The NSW policy document also recognises that most of the state’s remaining coal fired capacity – particularly Bayswater and Liddell – will close by 2035, and the state’s future energy needs will be met by renewables such as wind, solar, solar thermal, pumped hydro and large scale battery storage.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd