WA Liberals announce 4.5 GW ‘mega project’ as part of renewable energy plan

Western Australian Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup has unveiled an ambitious new energy policy in the lead up to the state election, announcing a $400 million jobs and renewable energy plan which would see coal phased out along with big investments in solar, wind and hydrogen.

At the core of the WA Liberals’ New Energy Jobs Plan is a $9 billion 4.5 GW renewable energy “mega project” encompassing wind and solar energy to be constructed between Geraldton and Shark Bay with the renewable energy converted to green hydrogen for transport to export markets.

Kirkup said the Liberals would also underwrite the development of a 1.5 GW solar and wind energy project in the Mid-West by 2025 by completing a $500 million transmission line extension from Three Springs to Geraldton which would result in zero emissions and renewable electricity powering the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).

The plan also alludes to a 500 MW mega-battery array which would provide grid security.

Kirkup also promised to “lead by example” and deliver zero emissions from the state government by 2030 which is inclusive of the public transport system, state vehicle fleet, and the state-owned electricity network.

Under the plan, state-owned coal-fired power stations in Muja and Collie would be shut by 2025. The current Labor Government has already indicated it will shut two of the four operating generators at the Muja Power Station between 2022 and 2024 but has not outlined when the whole facility may be shuttered.

Kirkup however said transitioning to renewables was a necessary step to ensure the state keeps pace with other countries already making the move around the world.

“I want to make it perfectly clear that this will not impact the private sector. This is about the state government’s emissions and leading by example,” he said.

“Our plan will assist companies transition to green exports and independent clean energy operations – if they choose.

“Coal has been progressively wound down in WA and what we need to do is make sure we have … a plan for the future.

“The Liberal’s New Energy Jobs Plan will help create a renewable energy future not only for our state but for the rest of the country.”

Kirkup, who will look to unseat Premier Mark McGowan in the March 13 state election, said the Liberals’ New Energy Jobs Plan was expected to attract $16 billion worth of public and private capital investment over the coming decade, on top of the $400 million spent by the state.

“It’s a mega-project, building the largest renewable energy project in Australia’s history, with wind, solar and large-scale batteries that will transform Western Australia’s energy system for the next 50 years,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refuses to commit to a net-zero date.

Image: Scott Morrison/Facebook

The plan however flies in the face of the Federal Government’s stance with Prime Minister Scott Morrison continuing to push for new investments in coal while refusing to put a deadline on Australia reaching net-zero emissions.

During a National Press Club address last month Morrison said “our goal is to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050”.

Kirkup said the WA Liberals were not with Morrison who has also said there is decades left for the coal industry.

“We’re not fundamentally at odds at all, the reality is the Prime Minister has set an ambitious target for where Australia needs to be,” he said.

“What we’re saying is that as a state government we have a target now of 2030, that’s for zero emissions for the state government.

“We have natural advantages here that should be exploited, should be utilised to make sure we can transition to net zero.

“We need to take advantage of our state’s natural assets. This is not something that should be difficult to achieve in Western Australia when we have the best possible solar, wind, gas and hydrogen opportunities.”

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