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ACT government aims for 100% renewable energy by 2025

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The government of the Australian Capital Territory is going where the federal politicians who march the corridors of Parliament House in the national capital fear to tread – to reach 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

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The target was unveiled by ACT chief minister Andrew Barr at the ACT Labor Party conference on Saturday. The ACT already had a 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, but decided to go the “whole hog” by 2025 to show leadership in the climate and clean energy debate that has been lacking at the federal level.

“Canberra can and should be a beacon for everyone who realises the world must act decisively now to stave off a future of catastrophic climate change,” Barr told the conference on Saturday.

The ACT is able to do this because it has no domestic fossil fuel industry – apart from federal lobbyists – within its territory, therefore little organised resistance to wind and solar projects.

Its target compares to federal Labor’s ambition to have 50 per cent renewables for the whole country by 2030. The Federal Coalition says 23.5 per cent renewables – its target for 2020 – is “more than enough”.

The states are already showing more ambition. Tasmania is virtually at 100 per cent renewables, South Australia has a 50 per cent renewable energy target for 2025 which it will meet well before then, and Queensland also has a 50 per cent renewable energy target. On Friday, Victoria announced plans to support the construction of wind turbines and rooftop solar to reboot its flagging renewables sector.

The ACT has already commissioned three wind farms totaling 200MW and three solar farms totaling 44MW that will take it to 60 per cent renewables by 2017, including rooftop solar.

A further 200MW of wind capacity and 50MW of next generation solar capacity (with storage) will take it to 90 per cent by 2020.

Energy minister Simon Corbell says an assessment will then be made on what will be needed to reach 100 per cent, depending on demand forecasts and growth of rooftop solar and energy efficiency, and further opportunities in large scale renewables.

Corbell says the intention is to provide the equivalent of 100 per cent of the territory’s electricity needs through renewable energy, not to become independent of the grid.

“We see this as much an economic development strategy as much as an environment strategy. That is what you hear when you travel overseas, from UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres, to the IEA (International Energy Agency), they recognise the economic opportunities.

He pointed to the investment in tertiary eduction, corporate headquarters, operational centres and skills training. Neoen which is building the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia, is investing $7.5 million into the local TAFE, while Windlab, which is building one wind farm and will manage another, will grow its corporate HQ to 80 staff from 20 staff.

   

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  • GlennM

    Fantastic !
    The irony of the politicians driving past “utterly offensive” wind turbines to sit in their renewable powered offices, so they can write press releases saying “Coal is the future” is just wonderful.

    More seriously Giles, has anyone done a calculation on how the States X% by 20XX all add up and compare with the Federal govt stated goal of 23% by…

    have the States made the Govt irrelevant, or are some states dragging the chain badly ?

    • john

      The ACT as you point out so well is a beacon of sense in a very dense fog of knowledge.
      As the country moves forward and old gen sets have to be refurnished the cost analysis is already showing that using RE is a better option so eventually the country will move to a totally RE supply situation.
      The ACT is just a little bit before the curve possibly due to the facts, as pointed out in the article, they have no inherent impositions due to old energy sources; whereas the states are still tied to some degree to that area of power generation.

    • Peter Campbell

      Some time back I had the impression that the ACT’s various activities were intended to be additional to any national renewable energy target so that effort in the ACT would not just let others off the hook. Perhaps time for an article to confirm that (or not)?

      • David Osmond

        Hi Peter, this is from the website describing the 90% renewable target. Hopefully the 100% target will have the same mindset.

        “Generation will also be registered as GreenPowerTM to ensure additional renewable energy generation above and beyond national renewable energy targets”

        http://www.environment.act.gov.au/energy/90_percent_renewable

        Mind you, as you’ve often mentioned, the Federal Government often seems keen to use anyone else’s actions as an excuse for them to do less. It wouldn’t surprise me if Abbott tried to pull a stunt along the lines that because the ACT Gov is doing this, the Federal Gov can reduce their target by a similar amount.

  • Ian

    From what I can see the wind farm projects are not built in the capital territory but elsewhere. If they really want bragging rights, then why not 150% or 200% renewables, or ‘ electric car ready’ renewable generation capacity, or solar/wind donation to the needy States of Victoria and NSW, a special polititian’s second home levy could be imposed to finance this!