Labor pledges funding for renewable jobs, support for Tasmania Battery of the Nation

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Shorten unveils $75m Renewables Training Package, extends establishment of Renewable Energy Zones to Tasmania, where it makes down-payment on Battery of Nation.

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Federal Labor has pledged to drive the creation of up to 70,000 renewable energy jobs by 2030 with the rollout of a $75 million Renewables Training Package, and underpinned by the establishment of key Renewable Energy Zones around the country, including in Tasmania.

In a statement on Thursday, Bill Shorten said a Labor government would invest $45 million to support 10,000 apprenticeships in renewable energy-related fields and upgrade TAFE campuses, as part of the party’s existing commitment to 150,000 Apprentice Incentives.

Under the scheme, renewable energy industry employers would be able to access up to $8,000 to take on apprentice, while apprentices would get $2,000 to assist with the costs of their education.

Shorten said the new incentives would be available for apprentices working on renewable energy projects and for clean energy businesses, including wind and solar, battery manufacture and installation, pumped hydro and transmission.

The party would also invest $30 million to upgrade TAFEs and train locals for the 70,000 jobs it claims its renewable energy policies will help generate.

“We want to prepare for the workforce of the future,” said Shorten during a campaign stop at a factory in Braddon in north-west Tasmania – one of the three Australian Renewable energy Zones ALP has so far declared.

The others are in South Australia – from the north of Adelaide across the Spencer Gulf through to Whyalla, where Shorten was on Wednesday, visiting the solar farm and renewable powered steel works of GFG Alliance’s Sanjeev Gupta; and in the south-west of Western Australia.

Shorten said on Thursday that $20 million of the TAFE upgrade money would go to ensuring apprentices and TAFE students had the opportunity to train on industry standard equipment, including batteries, solar panels, turbine and grid components.

“This will also support building, construction and design students to integrate renewables into their studies and make sure TAFE is at the forefront of renewables innovation and education,” he said.

A further $10 million would be invested into a Clean Energy Training Fund, to support industry partnerships for training and upskilling workers in clean energy industries, from solar and battery installers to energy management system professionals.

“There will be thousands of opportunities for apprentices and TAFE students because of Labor’s investment in Solar Schools, Household Battery Program, doubling of the CEFC’s capital, and commitment to delivering 50 per cent renewables by 2030,” he said.

“We’ve got to start training our young people and not-so young people to grab the job opportunities of the future that renewable energy provides,” Shorten told reporters in Tasmania, where the party also declared its support for the Battery of the Nation project, that would expand Tassie’s pumped hydro storage capacity, to store the mainland’s excess renewables.

“The future generations aren’t going to forgive the current crop of politicians if we don’t take real action on climate change, right now.”

Energy minister Mark Butler also announced on Thursday a $5 million “downpayment” on the Project Renewable Future, which he said would see an “extraordinary ecosystem around renewable energy” built in north-west Tasmania, that would tap the state’s hydrogen potential, as well as its famous wind resource.

Butler also noted that two of Australia’s most talked about renewable energy supporting projects – the development of a second interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland, and the Battery of the Nation – would only “stack up” under a high emissions reduction scenario consistent with Labor’s 50 per cent renewables by 2030 target.

“Scott Morrison has to stop lying to the people of Tasmania. These projects will not go ahead under his policy of building new coal-fired power stations, let alone his budding Coalition partner, Clive Palmer, policies of building nuclear power stations, which was announced this morning.”

The Coalition, meanwhile, is sticking with its broad climate and energy policy campaign strategy of having none, and focusing instead on undermining Labor’s.

This has included numerous scare campaigns largely perpetuated by energy minister Angus Taylor, one of the most recent being the Tweeted suggestion that Labor was trying to turn Australian schools into power stations.

While intended as another clarion call to voters to reject Labor’s unhinged green leanings, it rather backfired, with many noting that this was a great plan, and one Taylor himself had endorsed not so long ago at the launch of a self-contained solar and battery-powered classroom.

Others noted that Taylor’s own alma mater, the elite Kings School in Paramatta, installed a solar power station on its rooftops, all by itself, and might like to add battery storage and get extra income from the solar it doesn’t consume on summer holidays and weekends.

And then…

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