Victoria urged to go ‘faster, further’ in race to 100% renewables

A parliamentary committee has recommended the Victorian government explore options to allow greater integration of distributed energy resources, including rooftop solar PV into the grid as climate activists urge the state to ramp up its renewable energy ambitions.

A parliamentary inquiry into renewable energy has recommended the Victorian government explore feed-in tariffs options for renewable energy exports and progress its Virtual Power Plant pilot program to enable statewide delivery as part of plans to accelerate the state’s transition to renewables.

The report also urged Victoria to commit to a cut-off date for the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles, consider a ban on gas connections in new homes and consider reviewing and removing regulations that mandate gas connections in new buildings.

The Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee tabled its report on renewable energy in Victoria this week. The committee’s final report, which made 32 recommendations, found the state’s electricity demand is likely to double by 2050 as a greater uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) coincides with a decline in household gas usage.

Committee chair Sonja Terpstra said while electricity usage is predicted to increase significantly, the state already has sufficient access to the clean energy resources needed to transition the state’s electricity system to 100% renewables.

“The Victorian government has the governance and policy structure in place to meet the increase in the demand for energy to 2050 with renewable energy sources,” she said. “Renewable energy zones, the renewable energy development plan, renewable energy auctions and the creation of VicGrid will help transform the state’s energy system to accommodate the increased production of renewable energy that this state needs.”

The upper house inquiry was tasked with investigating a blueprint for the state to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Victoria currently has a series of renewable energy targets in place, including a 40% uptake by 2025, and a 50% target for 2030.

Increased uptake of EVs is expected to drive increased electricity usage.

Image: ARENA

While the report makes no recommendations on the state government’s net zero emissions target by 2050, Victorian Greens party leader Samantha Ratnam said that on current forecasts the state is on track to beat the target of 50% renewable energy by 2030, and argues the government should revise the target to be more ambitious.

“This inquiry has shown we have the resources and technical know-how to transition Victoria to 100% renewable energy by 2030, we just need the political will,” she said. “Victoria must be as ambitious as possible in the climate action we take in the next critical years to 2030. This means stopping new fossil fuel production, transitioning our coal and gas to renewable sources, and eliminating emissions from other sectors like transport.”

Environment Victoria policy and advocacy manager Bronya Lipski said the state government could use the inquiry’s recommendations to speed up the roll out of renewables to 100% by the end of the decade.

“With a federal government now committed to facilitating rather than obstructing the transition, it’s increasingly clear that now is the time for fast-tracking the renewable transition,” she said.

“Victoria needs to get on with the job of creating thousands of new direct renewable energy jobs and leaving Victorian households financially better off. This inquiry makes it clear that Victoria must move quickly and boldly to get to 100% renewable power this decade.”

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