Projects wait for green light

FEDERAL Government pressures and proposed new access laws could bring a multi-billion dollar boost to WA’s renewable energy industry. It is understood that the Federal Government is considering an increase in the Mandatory Renewables Energy Target from 2 per cent to as high as 10 per cent.

Under the current system WA is required to have 2 per cent of its energy needs drawn from renewable sources by 2010.

Sustainable Energy Industry Association president Matthew Rosser said that meant an infrastructure spend of $600 million to meet the goal, but if the target increased to 5 per cent that would mean a more than $1 billion investment.

However, renewable energy providers say the present requirements to access WA’s main power grid the South West Interconnected System make it impossible for their projects to get backing.

The WA Government instituted the Electricity Reform Task Force, which has proposed a new energy access regime that could make these projects bankable.

It has also announced plans to spend up to $70 million over the next 10 years acquiring renewable energy certificates from green energy projects to help it meet the MRET.

There are two private renewable energy projects on the drawing board awaiting better access conditions – the Blair Fox project that plans to convert chicken litter into 10 megawatts of power and the Pacific Hydro-Energy Visions project that plans to build wind farms at Rous Head, Fremantle and Geraldton. The $12 million Rous Head plant would generate 7.2 MW and has received WA Planning Commission approval. The Geraldton wind farm would generate 100 MW.

Landfill Gas and Power is the only other private renewable generator in the WA market, with four plants on five landfill sites that are currently supplying electricity to Western Power. It expects to have a fifth plant operating at the Tamala Park landfill site by the end of this year. A fourth player, Energy Development Limited attempted to set up a biomass electricity generating plant at Gosnells but, ironically, that project stalled due to community concerns about environmental emissions.

Mr Rosser, who also fronts Blair Fox Generation, said the plant had customers prepared to buy power from it.

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