Breaking ranks with the their fellow Lib-Nat party members on the federal level, the NSW government has declared its aim of ensuring that NSW is fertile territory for renewable energy investment.
NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes stated that the state could be “Australia’s answer to California” at the Clean Energy Week conference currently underway in Sydney. California is a renewable energy leader in the US, with a state-based renewable energy target of 33% by the end of the decade and a massive renewable energy industry.
“We’re on the cusp of a truly exciting time for energy and the environment, with NSW positioned to take a very strong lead. We have the technology, the skills and, through my government, the policy intent,” said Mr Stokes. The government would take action first among its own fleet of buildings–both rented and owned–where there was ample opportunity for energy efficiency improvements.
‘‘We will improve our cities by getting all large office buildings, owned or leased by the NSW government, to achieve and maintain National Australian Built Environment Rating System energy rating of at least 4.5 stars and a water rating of at least 4 stars,’’ he said.
He also expressed his government’s support for keeping the federal Renewable Energy Target (RET) in its current form–namely, 41,000GWh of renewable energy by 2020. This number has been the topic of heated debate in the energy industry, with opponents pointing out that it no longer reflects a 20% target in light of the fact that electricity demand has fallen significantly across the nation in recent years.
Proponents have argued that the policy should be kept as-is, both in order to foster the ongoing uptake of renewables in the country, as well as to give a higher degree of certainty to investors who made decisions based on the assumption that it would remain unchanged.
The likelihood of the RET being weakened was diminished significantly when Clive Palmer put his party’s weight behind the program, virtually ensuring that the Coalition will be unable to pass any legislation to alter the scheme through the fractious senate.
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