(Australian Associated Press)
As the federal government phases out subsidies for renewable energy, investors are putting $22 billion towards a huge solar and wind farm in Western Australia.
The two arms of the Renewable Energy Target will be gradually phased out by 2030, Energy Minister Angus Taylor told AAP.
“The government is committed to reducing power prices while keeping the lights on. Fortunately, renewables are increasingly competitive so subsidies are not required.”
Targets set in the Renewable Energy Target will be static from 2020 but continue for a further decade.
However, Mr Taylor has previously hit out at renewable energy subsidies for driving up power costs for consumers, questioning the economics behind the programs.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says a lack of policy is preventing Australia from becoming a renewable energy superpower, but admits coal will be part of the mix for the foreseeable future.
“What we need to do is create investment certainty, write out what the rules are so we can get more renewable energy,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“Renewable energy is getting cheaper and I want to make it more accessible to small business and consumers.”
Private investors are already jumping at Australia’s potential for wind and solar, with a $22 billion renewable energy farm planned for Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
Macquarie Group this week became the top backer of the Asian Renewable Energy Hub project, which includes more than 1400 wind turbines and 10 million solar panels to be constructed within the next decade.
This would generate more than 40 TWh per year, compared to about 180 TWh of electricity used in the National Electricity Market, project spokesman Andrew Dickson told AAP.
More than half of the generated 11GW will be used in the Pilbara for mining, mineral processing and anticipated large scale green hydrogen production.
The remainder will be exported to South East Asia via subsea electrical cables.
Due to the structure of Australia’s electricity network, Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia won’t benefit from WA’s renewable potential.
A new interconnector linking WA to the NEM does not rank as a feasible project in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 20-year plan.