Renewables all the way in WA with clean energy plan

The Western Australian government has announced a $66.3 million renewable energy technologies package, which aims to kick-start the state’s economy, create jobs, and reduce energy costs.

In Western Australia’s North-West, $44.5 million worth of infrastructure will be installed as part of a Regional Infrastructure Stimulus package. This includes an additional 50 standalone power systems, the installation of nine Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) in nine regional communities, and infrastructure upgrades in remote Aboriginal communities.

A further $10 million will go towards the Clean Energy Future Fund, adding to the $9.3 million initially invested. Clean energy innovators can apply for funding of between $250,000 and $2 million for each clean energy project.

The government will install $6 million worth of solar panels on social housing properties. This is expected to benefit around 500 properties, with program participants to save significantly each year on electricity bills.  

Another $4 million will be invested in transforming up to 10 schools into smart, green Virtual Power Plants, receiving rooftop solar panel systems and commercial batteries. The local community will be able to contribute and withdraw power from the solar they generate, reducing power bills for the schools and community participants.

Finally, $1.8 million will go towards installing solar panels at up to 60 bus and rail stations as part of the significant solar power investment package to improve energy efficiency.

Actions applauded

“This is fantastic leadership from the WA government,” says Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie. “It’s a winning solution creating jobs, setting up new industries for the future and reducing pollution.

“It comes less than a week after new economic modelling found that 10,000 jobs could be created in Western Australia, rapidly getting people back into the workforce while also tackling climate change.”

Developed by AlphaBeta for the Climate Council, the Clean Jobs Plan indicates that across Western Australia 2,500 jobs could be created in ecosystem restoration and revegetation, while up to 1,500 jobs could be created in large-scale renewable energy, transmission and storage.

“The Clean Jobs Plan identifies a dozen policy options which can create jobs fast, where they are needed and for people who need them most,” says AlphaBeta Director, Andrew Charlton. “The job creation could start immediately and continue over three years.”

McKenzie says the states and territories are leading the charge in tackling climate change and showing that they are serious about protecting Australians from worsening extreme weather.

“A clean jobs recovery will drive huge amounts of private clean energy investment,” she says, “create jobs and help to protect communities in Western Australia.”

The Clean Job Plan found that, across Australia, 42 per cent of the job opportunities identified are located in regional areas. Two big-ticket items are large-scale renewable energy and ecosystem restoration.

“The Clean Jobs Plan is unique because of the speed at which it can get people back to work,” McKenzie says. “It puts us on a practical, jobs-rich path and focuses on areas most in need. It sets us up for the future, by creating jobs and tackling climate change. It’s a win-win solution.”

A template for transition?

Meanwhile, seven climate, environment and renewable energy organisations have joined forces to call for jobs-rich climate solutions to be at the centre of Victoria’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

The Climate Council, Australian Conservation Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Beyond Zero Emissions, Friends of the Earth, Australian Wind Alliance, and Environment Victoria developed the paper urging the Victorian government to follow leading international voices calling for governments at all levels to seize the opportunity to scale up decarbonisation efforts while also boosting economic activity in response to the pandemic.

The paper calls on the Victorian government to place climate solutions at the centre of their plans for economic recovery from the pandemic by prioritising clean, efficient housing; electrified manufacturing; building the state’s renewable energy grid; turbo-charging the state’s renewable energy generation, supply chains and jobs; boosting nature restoration, sustainable agriculture and bushfire recovery; and investing in sustainable, healthy transport.

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