NSW to become a leader in medium-scale solar PV under new state policies

The NSW government has unveiled a new policy that could help “transform mid-scale solar” energy in Australia.

The state’s environment minister, Rob Stokes, said the new resource efficiency policy would require all NSW government agencies to conduct a property audit, their electricity usage and the potential for solar PV installation.

The sites required to do this would include those with at least 100m2 of unshaded northerly aspects roofs, which could accommodate a solar PV system of at least 10kW.

Stokes said the idea was to have government office sites generate around one-third of their electricity needs through solar – an outcome that would be achieved using solar leasing contracts, the guidelines to which are expected to be completed soon.

Stokes also signalled he would introduce changes to the way that wind energy noise guidelines were administered – both moves part of his vision to make NSW Australia’s number one state in Australia for clean energy.”I recognise that the industry has had its share of challenges over recent years,” he said in a speech to the Clean Energy Week conference in Sydney.

“The policy levers have been moved too often and the investment certainty has not been there.  I am confident, however, that we can make NSW number one for clean energy and climate change mitigation.

“We are not only committed to achieving 20% renewable energy in NSW but we are intent on making NSW the place in Australia to do business if you are in the clean energy sector.  When it comes to clean energy we can be Australia’s answer to California.”

“The audit is simple,” Stokes said. “Per property it can be carried out in less time than it will take me to deliver this speech.

Environment Minister Rob Stokes“The simplicity of the audit belies, however, the value of the data that it will produce.  Data from the audit will be publicly available and will be able to be used by mid-scale solar providers to offer market-generated solutions to Government departments.”

“The NSW government is one of the one of the biggest electricity consumers in the state and this new policy will increase resource efficiency and free up funds for frontline Government services,” Stokes said.“Through this policy, NSW Government agencies are anticipated to invest around $290 million in energy efficiency and on-site electricity generation projects over the next decade.”

The resource efficiency policy also includes

– A requirement for Departments to undertake energy efficiency projects at sites representing 90% of their billed energy use by June 2024, with an interim target of 55% for Health and 40% for other Departments by June 2018

– An undertaking that all owned and tenanted office buildings over 2000m2 will achieve and maintain a NABERS energy base building or whole building rating of at least 4.5 stars by June 2017 and a whole building NABERS water rating of at least 4 stars

– The Government will improve minimum fuel efficiency standards for new light vehicles in our fleet so that the average Government purchase is at least the market average fuel efficiency by vehicle category by June 2017.

– 6% of all electricity used by NSW Government to be from renewable energy accredited by GreenPower.  GreenPower is an opportunity for individuals and businesses to opt into best-practice environmental management.

Above right photo: Environment Minister Rob Stokes, via parliament.nsw.gov.au

Top image: Marrickville Council solar array, via Marrickville Council

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson