• Labor party in New South Wales in Australia, currently in opposition, has proposed setting up of 7 GW of new large-scale renewable energy capacity in the state if it is elected to power in March 2019
  • Out of the 7 GW, there will be reverse auctions conducted for 6 GW, and remaining 1 GW of renewables with storage will come from a new state owned corporation over the next decade
  • Rooftop solar will see 2 GW of additional capacity deployment for which rebates will be offered to owner-occupied homes
  • Solar industry will see creation of 13,485 jobs, and the entire plan will attract AUD 9.5 billion ($6.75 billion) in capital investment, claims Labor party

One of the most promising renewable energy markets in Australia, the state of New South Wales (NSW) is seeing some interesting activity with elections approaching. Elections in the state are due in March 2019, and the opposition leader heading the Labor Party has promised 7 GW of new large-scale renewable energy capacity addition in the state by 2030 if elected to power.

Michael Daley, the leader of the opposition, said his government will conduct competitive tenders and long-term contracts via reverse auctions to bring down the price of new-build renewable energy down and reduce the price of electricity.

At least 4 GW of new large-scale renewable energy would be delivered in the first 4-years of the government if formed by the Labor party.

Out of the 7 GW, 1 GW would come from a new state owned corporation that will be set up to deliver renewable energy generation and storage over the next decade. A rooftop solar program is also on the anvil for 500,000 households to deploy PV panels which could help take solar to an additional 1 million homes over the next decade. Owner-occupied homes with a combined income of AUD 180,000 or less would be eligible for a rebate capped at AUD 2,200 per household.

It would create a virtual power plant for the state adding up to an additional 2 GW of rooftop solar power once it is fully installed. The rooftop program would move in a phased manner starting in 2019-2020 financial year.

The party says it will invest $11 million to train and accredit electricians to install and maintain the new renewable energy infrastructure in the state.

Adam Searle who is being pitched as the future energy minister by the Labor party, said these efforts by his party will lead to the creation of 13,485 jobs in the solar sector, attract AUD 9.5 billion ($6.75 billion) in capital investment, deliver AUD 5 billion ($3.55 billion) in economic benefits to the regional NSW economies, and will push down electricity costs and reduce emissions by 14%.

RenewEconomy of Australia says Labor party’s renewable energy plans could take the state’s renewable energy target to a 40% share in the state’s electricity mix, compared to the 50% target of Victoria and Queensland, and Australian Capital Territory’s 100% goal.

Industry bodies have welcomed the proposals of the Labor party. Clean Energy Council said if implemented, the 7 GW target will be the highest state-based clean energy commitment to date in the country.

We have seen a big boost to jobs and investment delivered by reverse auction initiatives in states such as Victoria and the ACT. The flow-on benefits for communities surrounding wind and solar projects are very real, from direct employment opportunities to investment in local businesses and community benefit funds,” said Kane Thornton, Chief Executive of the Clean Energy Council.

Smart Energy Council’s CEO John Grimes called it an ‘absolute game-changer, the biggest renewable energy policy ever announced in Australia’. He said, “If this policy is implemented, NSW will go from laggard to leader.”