29/08/2007 - 10:37

State renewable energy target to cost over $1bn: report

29/08/2007 - 10:37


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The State Government has commenced a 15 week consultation process on its renewable energy strategy, after economic modelling revealed the costs of reaching its target of 15 per cent renewable energy by 2020 would exceed $1 billion.

State renewable energy target to cost over $1bn: report

The State Government has commenced a 15 week consultation process on its renewable energy strategy, after economic modelling revealed the costs of reaching its target of 15 per cent renewable energy by 2020 would exceed $1 billion.



The full text of an announcement from Energy Minister Francis Logan is pasted below

More than $1 billion will need to be invested in renewable energy in Western Australia if the State Government is to reach its target of 15 per cent renewable energy by 2020, new data has revealed.

A discussion paper and new economic modelling released today by Energy Minister Francis Logan also says that a target would deliver significant benefits to WA's economy, including lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The release of the discussion paper coincides with the launch of a 15-week consultation process on the design of a mandatory scheme to achieve the 15 per cent target.

"The State Government's 2020 target represents a significant increase in the use of renewable energy in WA," Mr Logan said.

"Renewable energy currently supplies just over five per cent to the main electricity grid, up from about one per cent in 2001.

"Meeting the 2020 target will be the equivalent of building another nine large wind farms similar to the 80MW Emu Downs wind farm near Cervantes, or over 30 the size of the smaller 22MW Albany wind farm.

"But the target will provide opportunities for a range of renewable energy technologies, including solar, bioenergy, geothermal and wave energy."

The Minister said renewable energy was more expensive than fossil fuels, so it was important to examine the impact of the target on the electricity sector and the broader community.

"Detailed economic modelling commissioned by the Office of Energy indicates that the impact of the proposed scheme on the electricity market, employment and the economy is modest," he said.

"It also shows that a 15 per cent target reduces greenhouse gas emissions from Western Australian electricity generation by more than 27 million tonnes over the life of the scheme, equivalent to taking more than 600,000 cars off the road for 10 years.

"A target of 15 per cent by 2020 strikes an appropriate balance between the costs and the benefits of the increased use of renewable energy.

"Implementing the target will also help the WA Government achieve its longer-term aim of a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050."

Mr Logan said a mandatory Western Australian scheme would provide the certainty required by the electricity industry to make long-term investment plans for meeting the State's future energy needs.

He said it would also help position WA for the impacts of a carbon constrained future and increase the diversity and security of WA's energy supplies.

"Western Australia is fortunate to have significant renewable energy resources," he said.

"Extensive areas of the South-West have been replanted with hard and soft wood plantations and significant quantities of waste can now be used to produce energy. In agricultural areas, the reintroduction of deep-rooted woody perennials like oil mallee to address salinity now offers the potential to support biomass-related renewable energy.

"Currently there are nearly 300MW of biomass projects proposed in the South-West, and another 500MW of wind projects under consideration around the State.

"We have just introduced legislation to facilitate the exploration and production of geothermal energy and WA is currently home to the development of innovate wave power technology."

The Minister said the consultation was occurring in a period of considerable uncertainty over future national policies to address greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions trading and national renewable energy targets.

"The Carpenter Government supports a coordinated national policy on climate change and has been calling for the Federal Government to join with the States and Territories in implementing an emissions trading scheme.

"But the State Government is keen to act. We are proceeding with consultation because we don't believe we can afford to continue to wait for clarity from the Federal Government."

Mr Logan said the mechanism for achieving the renewable energy target needed to be flexible, with a capacity to respond to emerging technologies, alternative abatement options and national policy initiatives such as emissions trading.

"While I am hopeful that technologies such as clean coal and geosequestration will be available in the future, renewable technologies are available today to help the State position itself for a carbon constrained future," he said.

The discussion paper 'Renewable Energy Target for Western Australia - Scheme Design Paper' and the economic modelling is available from the State Government's Sustainable Energy Development Office's website www.sedo.energy.wa.gov.au.


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