Western Australia unveils AU$55m solar, storage investment in post-pandemic kickstarter

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The plan will see around 500 social housing properties in Western Australia fitted with AU$6 million worth of solar panels. Image: Pixabay.

Western Australia will invest AU$56.3 million (US$40.11 million) in solar power as part of a new renewable energy plan designed to kickstart the state’s economy following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stimulus package, which consists of a total AU$66.3 million (US$47.23 million) spend on green energy technologies, will see the development of 50 standalone power systems and the installation of nine battery energy storage systems.

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Around 500 social housing properties will be fitted with AU$6 million (US$4.27 million) worth of solar panels. The state government will also invest AU$4 million (US$2.85 million) towards transforming up to ten schools into virtual power plants featuring rooftop solar panel systems and commercial batteries. Solar panels will also be installed at up to 60 bus and rail stations.

The investments form part of a AU$5.5 billion (US$3.91 billion) recovery scheme designed to create a pipeline of jobs for Western Australians and deliver long-term economic growth.

“This comprehensive plan will support job-creating sectors including renewable energy, which we know will help reduce energy costs, provide better energy efficiency across the state and improve our energy footprint,” said Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan.

The programme has been welcomed by the Climate Council, the Australian climate change communications organisation.

“The states and territories are leading the charge in tackling climate change and showing that they are serious about protecting Australians from worsening extreme weather,” said CEO Amanda McKenzie.

“A clean jobs recovery will drive huge amounts of private clean energy investment, create jobs and help to protect communities in Western Australia.”

The announcement comes less than a week after new economic modelling commissioned by the Climate Council found that Australia has the potential to create up to 15,000 jobs in large-scale renewable energy.

The Clean Jobs Plan identifies 12 policy opportunities to help the country recover from the twin crises of bushfires and COVID-19, creating a total of 76,000 “shovel-ready” jobs.

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