NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes says that developing renewable energy is a “no brainer” for society, and hailed the fact that renewables were helping to “democratise” the energy system.
Stokes, respected as the probably the most passionate supporter of renewable energy among any Coalition minister in state or federal government in Australia, said renewable energy “had a clear and certain future for the rollout of renewables in the state.
Speaking to the first Community Energy Conference in Canberra, by video, Stokes said that renewable energy had a “very clear and certain future” and brought jobs, lower prices, skills and research and investment to the economy.
“We see it as a no brainer to do all we can to harness the Pandora’s Box of renewable energy opportunities in NSW,” Stokes said.
NSW recently declared its support for the renewable energy target to be maintained, citing some $15 billion of potential projects within its own state. It did, however, agree that the target should be diluted to represent a “real” 20 per cent target, rather than the current fixed goal of 41,000GWh that would likely send the share of renewables beyond that level.
Stokes said community owned renewables were “really exciting”, because of the benefits of seeing the technology at work, de-bunking fears and myths about their impact, and for sharing benefits of jobs and “lowering the impact of energy prices.”
“(Community energy) is the best way that energy can be democratised,” he said.
“To most people energy is something that comes on when you turn on the switch. I’ve seen how librating it is when people have power to see how that is generated.” Stokes said this helped deliver power messages of energy efficiency and to use resources wisely.
NSW last year allocated $400,000 to assist pre feasibility studies for nine community renewable energy projects in the state, and Stokes said more funding would be allocated for other projects in the next 12 months.
Stokes also said the government is releasing a “Community Energy How To Guide – giving advice on corporate structures, funding options, and planning – and will also fund an online portal to share information on community renewables across Australia.