Vic government to address barriers to wind farms, distributed solar & storage

Just weeks after the federal government ordered the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to cease backing wind energy and rooftop solar in Australia, Victoria’s state Labor government has committed to drive new investment in wind farms, and to address barriers to distributed generation (ie. rooftop solar) and storage.

The Andrews government made the commitments in its Renewable Energy Roadmap policy, released last Friday, which has set a baseline renewable energy target for Victoria of 20 per cent by 2020.

The Roadmap – which the government says it developed in partnership with energy industry representatives, consumer groups and environment groups – identifies four priority areas, including boosting renewables development and investment, addressing barriers to the take-up of solar and storage, and supporting clean energy jobs through the $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund.

The policy also promises to address the increasingly contentious issue of network discrimination against existing rooftop solar households, as well as prohibitive wind farm planning laws, introduced by the former Liberal Baillieu government.

In a Foreward to the policy document, state energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Roadmap would help identify policy and regulatory barriers that were stifling renewable energy development at a state level, and investigate options for Victoria to take action where federal policy is failing, to attract clean energy investment and jobs for Victoria.

“Victoria has recognised that there is plenty of scope to go above and beyond the national target and build a smarter, cleaner, more modern economy,” said Clean Energy Council policy manager Alicia Webb.

“For a state whose economy is so heavily reliant on brown coal to set a renewable energy target of at least 20 per cent by the end of the decade is very ambitious, and the government should be congratulated for showing such strong national leadership.”

But, for an industry that has been through the policy wringer, local reaction to the announcement today is somewhat tempered.

“(This) is a good first step,” said Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham, adding that it would kick-start work on new wind farm construction and generating new jobs and investment in regional Victoria.

Wakeham said a state renewable energy target was also welcome, but added that it would be important that had its own policy mechanism, such as the ACT government’s reverse auctions.

“We will be urging the Andrews Government to set a date for decarbonising the Victorian economy and then setting its renewable energy targets to follow suit.”

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd