Victoria considers 600MW of new renewables to help drive economic recovery

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The Australian state of Victoria has started a process to test industry interest and capacity for new solar, wind and other renewable energy projects.

To help drive the economic recovery from coronavirus, the state’s government has launched a market sounding process to explore the addition of at least 600MW of green energy. The review will also look at the potential for large electricity-consuming businesses to buy renewable energy along with the government.

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It represents the next step in Victoria’s efforts to boost investment in Renewable Energy Zones, with more support lined up to expedite and streamline grid connections.

Launching the process, the state government pointed to the success of its 2017 Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) auction, which exceeded an initial 650MW target to deliver 928MW of green energy.

The proposal has been welcomed by climate change communications organisation the Climate Council, which recently revealed that supporting large-scale wind and solar could create up to 4,000 jobs in Victoria, while helping the state meet its 50% renewable energy target by 2030.

“Victoria has been hit hard by COVID-19, and investing in clean jobs will help the state’s economy to bounce back as it begins to reopen in the coming months,” Tim Baxter, Climate Council senior researcher, said.

Australia’s renewable energy association the Clean Energy Council estimates that 900 construction jobs along with 120 operations and maintenance positions could be created through the new projects.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the proposals mark an “important step” for Victoria’s clean recovery and for Australia as a whole.

“It will be critical to ensure these projects can connect to the grid. We’re pleased to hear that the Victorian Government is supporting the streamlining of the grid connection process and also the development of the renewable energy zone model to ensure these projects can contribute positively to the grid while providing investor confidence,” Thornton added.

According to the state government, Victoria is on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy target of 25%, and procuring new generation will make a “significant contribution” to meeting the 2025 target of 40% green energy.

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