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NSW plans solar policy initiative to ‘transform’ mid scale solar

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solar-parking-lot-300x200The NSW government has unveiled a new “resource efficiency” policy that will include a solar energy initiative which it says will help “transform mid-scale solar” in Australia.

NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes said the policy will require all NSW Government agencies that have small-scale electricity supply contracts to conduct a pro-forma property audit.

It was part of his vision to make NSW the number on state in Australia for clean energy, and to make it the Australian equivalent of California.

“I recognise that the industry has had its share of challenges over recent years,” he said in his 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.”

Stokes also signalled he would introduce changes to the way that wind energy noise guidelines were administered.

On the matter of office audits, Stokes said this will look at the properties’ physical characteristics, its electricity usage and the potential for solar PV installation.

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

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

Stokes says that the idea is to have government office sites generate around one third on their electricity needs through solar, and it will be using solar leasing contracts to achieve this. These contract guidelines are expected to be completed soon and agencies will collate a list of suitable sites by October, 2015.

The mid scale solar market is growing quickly in Astralia, but not as fast as many had feared. Part of this is due to financing limits, although the Clean Energy Finance Corp has sought to address these with its announcements of $120 million in financing for solar leasing today.

A policy document says: “The installation of solar PV systems is voluntary. Agencies may choose whether to engage a solar leasing or Power Purchase Agreement provider to install a solar PV system through an outright purchase or not to install a solar PV system.”

“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.

 

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  • GregX

    Finally someone in the Liberal Party who is listening to the majority of the Australian population who want the government to proactively do something about climate change. Looking forward to EV purchase rebates and transit lane use for EV’s too like our Californian cousins.