Victoria to target 95% renewable energy by 2035


Victoria’s energy network is set to undergo a mammoth transformation that will include the revival of the State Electricity Commission (SEC), a 95% reliance on renewables by 2035 with at least $1 billion (USD 630 million) to be spent on delivering 4.5 GW of renewable energy projects.

The state’s existing goal of 50% renewable sources by 2030 has also been increased to 65% by the end of the decade.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and state Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio revealed the new goals on Thursday at a press conference in Melbourne.

“We will end reliance on privatised coal and transition Victoria to cleaner, cheaper renewable electricity by 2035,” Andrews said.

“Big energy companies want to offshore profits – we want to offshore wind. Renewable energy is the future; it’s good for our climate, good for lower power bills and good for jobs.”

The Victorian network was privatised in the 1990s but Andrews said if re-elected at next month’s state election, he aims to bring back public ownership of energy resources by reviving the SEC to build new renewable energy projects to replace coal-fired power plants.

AGL has brought forward the closure date of the Loy Yang power station to 2035.

Image: AGL

Andrews said the new SEC will become an energy market proponent under a 10-year plan to deliver cleaner, cheaper energy, with all profits invested back into the network.

The state will retain a majority stake in the electricity commission with the super industry seen as the government’s preferred investor for the minority stake.

Andrews said the state government will invest at least $20 million to prepare the commission, including setting up an office in Morwell in the Latrobe Valley.

Another $1 billion will be invested to deliver 4.5 GW through renewable energy projects to replace the lost capacity from the anticipated closures of coal-fired power plants in the state.

Energy Australia has announced it will close the Yallourn power station in 2028, four years earlier than originally planned while energy giant AGL last month announced it would close its Loy Yang A power plant by 2035, up to 10 years earlier than previously planned.

“One power station is closed. Many smaller power stations will take its place. Those power stations won’t be for profit,” Andrews said.

“And because it’ll be 100% renewable,” he continued, “it will help us get us to net zero emissions a whole five years earlier – in 2045. It’ll mean Victorians will be back in control of our own power supply.”

Daniel Andrews says the plan includes an initial investment of $1 billion to deliver 4.5 GW of renewable energy projects.

Image: Supplied

Andrews said new emissions reduction targets will also be legislated as part of the overhaul, with the aim of 75% to 80% by 2035 and the existing net-zero emissions target will be brought forward by five years to 2045.

The deployment of 4.5 GW of new renewable energy projects builds on the 9.7 GW of renewable energy already powering Victoria and the recent commitment from the state government to an energy storage target of 2.6 GW by 2030 and 6.3 GW by 2035.

Clean Energy Council (CEC) Chief Executive Kane Thornton was among the industry figures who welcomed the announcement, saying it sends a “powerful signal to renewable energy investors that Victoria is determined to deploy large amounts of new renewable energy generation and manage the phase out of coal-fired generation”.

“The Victorian government has recognised the importance of co-investment and the critical role of the private sector when it comes to infrastructure projects of this size,” he said. “Victoria is replacing failing, costly and dirty coal-fired power with clean, reliable, low-cost renewable energy.”

The Victorian government anticipates the renewable energy initiatives will increase gross state product by about $9.5 billion and support 59,000 jobs through to 2035.

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