Spare a thought for the Morrison government. Just as it was digesting the climate implications of the election result in the US, New South Wales went and became the latest – but certainly not the only – Conservative government-led state in Australia to enthusiastically and uncompromisingly embrace the shift to renewable energy.
As RenewEconomy has reported, the NSW Coalition government on Monday unveiled a $32 billion plan to deliver 12GW of new renewable energy capacity – over and above “business as usual” – with an additional 2GW of storage capacity by 2030.
And the reaction to the news has been swift and overwhelmingly positive, from all sides of industry and the political spectrum. (And we are sure the Morrison government’s congratulations are in the works.)
Could it be that ambitious renewable energy policies are popular, smart politics? Here’s a look at some of the more notable reactions …
“This ambitious new plan sets NSW up to be Australia’s number one destination for renewable energy investment over the coming decade,” said Clean Energy Council chief Kane Thornton.
“It will provide tremendous confidence to private investors about when and where new generation is needed, while resolving a number of the key barriers to investment, such as access to the necessary transmission capacity, investment certainty through long-term energy services agreements and addressing slow and costly planning processes.
“Importantly, it also demonstrates that the clean energy transition will not cost consumers more, but rather save households $130 per year on their electricity bills,” Thornton said.
“Just as the Morrison government finds itself stranded internationally on its weak commitment to climate action, the NSW Liberal government has today exposed how isolated the Morrison government is on renewable energy,” said federal Labor’s climate and energy spokesperson, Mark Butler.
“Confirming yet again renewable energy means lower energy bills, modelling of the NSW plan concludes this renewables investment will lower average household bills by $130 per year, with small businesses set to save $440 per year.
“Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor remain committed to Tony Abbott’s anti-renewables ideology and all they have to show for it are higher electricity prices and higher emissions,” Butler added.
“This Roadmap is an important step forward in New South Wales as we plan for the fundamental transformation of the energy sector, which is being driven by technology and changing consumer demands,” said Energy Consumers Australia interim CEO Lynne Gallagher.
“The energy system of 2030 will look very different from what we have today and if you are setting out to redesign something as fundamental to peoples’ lives and businesses as the energy system, you really have no option but to do it with people rather than to do it to them,” Gallagher said.
“This is a huge win for NSW households and businesses, and is a great example of how investment in a renewable energy system can deliver for communities and consumers,” said the head of energy policy at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Craig Memery.
“Today’s announcement from the NSW government makes clear we don’t have to choose between sustainable, reliable energy and cost. Consumers’ and communities’ best interests are served through ambitious emissions reduction delivered through renewable energy investment,” he said.
“This plan will help make New South Wales a renewable energy superpower, deliver jobs for regional communities and provide more cheap and reliable renewable energy for homes and businesses,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific head of research and investigations, Nikola Casule.
“The Roadmap will help turbocharge the economic recovery from Covid-19, it will draw $32 billion of private investment and create more than 6000 construction jobs and almost 3000 ongoing jobs, mostly in regional NSW.
“The transition to clean and reliable renewable energy is inevitable and with the right support, we can upgrade our electricity systems even faster to keep warming close to 1.5 degrees,” Casule said.
“The Smart Energy Council congratulates the NSW government for outlining such a comprehensive roadmap to zero carbon by 2050,” said SEC chief John Grimes.
“This is a road trip for the ages and we’re itching to go. It is great news for New South Wales’ regional communities and provides a real fillip for the State’s economy.
“With all Australian State and Territory Governments, the incoming Biden Administration, Japan, South Korea and the European Union all committing to net zero carbon by 2050, it is now well past time for the Morrison government to get on board that journey,” Grimes said.
“It’s great to see the NSW government wholeheartedly embrace and accelerate reliable renewable energy,” said WWF Australia energy transition manager Nicky Ison.
“This is the biggest, most substantial commitment by any state government to a clean energy transition and a major strategic pivot towards making Australia a renewable superpower.
“In particular we commend the NSW government for prioritising renewable-powered manufacturing where NSW has a global competitive advantage – particularly green steel, aluminium, hydrogen and ammonia,” Ison said.