Setting up large scale solar farms in the northern part of Victoria is one of the strategies meant to significantly reduce the net carbon emissions of the state to zero by 2050.
The popular tram network in Melbourne will soon become solar-powered if the proposal by the Andrews government to set up large-scale solar farms in the northern Victoria is anything to go by.
The recently announced proposal forms part of the state government’s plan to cut on its net carbon emissions to 0 by 2050. The tenders to construct and operate the 75MW solar farms will be released to the public in the near future with the first power plant scheduled for completion by end of 2018.
Lily D’Ambrosio, the Environment and Energy Minister stated that 35MW of the generating electricity of the new solar plants will be dedicated to powering Melbourne’s tram network, a move that will ensure a reduction in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80,000 tonnes per year.
“We will use our purchasing power as a large energy consumer to boost investment in renewables and create new jobs for Victorians,” D’Ambrosio said. “We’re positioning Victoria as a leader in climate change, by reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts.”
The Minister added that the project is likely to create about 300 jobs and deliver $150m in capital expenditure to Victoria State.
The Greens have embraced the decision to power trams using solar adding that it perfectly matches its Greens policy of 2015, but felt that promoting large-scale solar while closing feed-in tariffs was hypocritical of the Andrews government.
The minimum solar FiT of 6.2c/kWh was reduced to 5c/kWh on 1 January 2017.
“It’s some pretty mixed messages that we’re seeing from the Andrews government when it comes renewables, including the fact that we’re supposed to have a plan on what to do with the coal industry by the end of last year and that hasn’t materialised,” Ellen Sandell, the Greens MP remarked.
D’Ambrosio also noted that the reduction was clearly a hangover from the previous Coalition regime, and that from 1 July, the FiT would rise by about 20% on the current rate.
The Chief executive of Environment Victoria, Mark Wakefield stated that the tram network gave the state some symbolic power, as it is one of the most remarkable features in Melbourne that is fired by renewable energy.
“I would love to see the train network also powered by renewable energy,” said Mark.
This proposal comes just six months after the same Andrews government approved the building of two win farms in the north-west region of Victoria; the 66MW Mt Gellibrand wind farm, 17km west of Winchelsea, and the 30MW Kiata wind farm located 50km north-west of Horsham.
The proposal presents a light at the end of the tunnel considering that it comes after the November announcement which gave indication of the impending closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired plant in Gippsland, which generated up to 25% of the state’s electricity.
The founders of the power station, Engie, are also looking into the possibility of selling Loy Yang B coal-fired power station situated in the Latrobe valley, and which generates 17% of Victoria’s electricity.
According to the government’s 2015 report on renewable energy targets in Victoria, only 12% of Victoria’s power supply in 2014 came from renewables, while 84% was generated by coal.
IMAGE via mikef_man