As Australia’s national politicians continue their bitter dispute over the country’s espousal of renewable energy, the government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is setting its sights on reaching 100% renewable energy generation by 2025.
The target was announced over the weekend at the ACT Labor Party conference by chief minister Andrew Barr, building on an existing plan to achieve 90% renewable energy generation by 2020.
“We can do this. We have shown it’s possible – now we have one small step left. 100% renewable energy will drive further jobs growth in our research and corporate sectors,” Barr said.
“We’ve already seen a 400% increase in renewable energy jobs in the past five years, and there will be more to come. 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 pointed out that the ACT policy was in “stark contrast” to that of Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and his Liberal Party, who have made various attempts to water down Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) in favour of supporting the coal industry. Abbott and his administration have also been criticised recently for falling behind other countries in efforts to reduce emissions.
“As the Federal Liberal Government denies the existence of climate change, the ACT Labor government is doing everything we can to ensure future generations aren’t burdened with the consequences of global warming,” Barr said.
Canberra is looking to meet its renewable energy goals through a mixture of large-scale solar and wind development, with tenders for 200MW of wind and 50MW of PV with storage having recently been announced. These are on top of other past large-scale solar and wind projects commissioned by the ACT, which are expected to contribute towards a 60% renewable energy target by 2017.
Barr said as an additional step, the ACT government would divest its portfolio of high-carbon-emitting companies and sectors.
With Australia’s federal government seeking ways to row back on Australia’s renewable energy commitments, the country’s state governments are becoming increasingly important protagonists in its shift towards low-carbon energy sources.
Aside from the capital territory, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania have been notable in their championing the deployment of clean energy at a state level.
Speaking at the Australian Clean Energy Summit last month, the ACT government’s energy minister Simon Cobell said Australia’s states now had a more prominent role than its federal leaders.
“Strong policies are critical to allow renewable energy to scale up sufficiently…we believe there is a big role for the states to play in encouraging more renewable energy.”