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Vic to legislate renewable storage targets

The largest renewable energy storage targets in Australia would be legislated in Victoria if the state Labor government secures a third successive term in office.

Just under two months before the state election, Premier Daniel Andrews has set targets for Victoria to reach 2.6 gigawatts of renewable energy storage capacity by 2030 and 6.3 GW by 2035.

The 6.3GW target would be enough to power half of the state’s households, and is expected to secure 12,700 jobs and $1.7 billion in investment from 2023 to 2035.

“We will set and legislate Australia’s largest energy storage targets,” Mr Andrews told reporters in Bayswater on Tuesday.

“This is all about giving certainty to industry, underwriting private sector investment.”

A greenhouse gas emissions report published last week showed Victoria had reduced carbon emissions to nearly 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, above its target of 15 to 20 per cent.

Victoria has legislated a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030 and aims to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Mr Andrews confirmed the storage targets would be legislated sometime in 2023, if Labor is granted another four years in government.

The Climate Council said the 2.6GW target was the equivalent to the dispatch capacity of a large coal-fired power station, while fellow climate action advocacy body Environment Victoria described the targets as a “groundbreaking”.

It is urging the federal government and other states to work with Victoria to develop a national storage target and for the Victorian coalition to commit to meet or beat the goals if it is victorious in November.

“Sensible environmental policy shouldn’t belong just to one side of politics,” Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said.

Australia’s east coast experienced an energy price crisis this year, fuelled in large part by winter, the Ukraine war, ageing coal power stations and the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Australian Energy Council, the peak industry group for electricity and natural gas businesses, wants more detail on how Victoria’s renewable storage targets may impact other initiatives, including the proposed capacity mechanism.

“It’s important to ensure any state-based approaches don’t affect the success of that work, which is well underway,” the AEC’s Ben Barnes said.

In addition, the Andrews government is investing $119 million towards a 125-megawatt battery and grid-forming inverter between Bendigo and Red Cliffs, along with $38 million for battery and renewable projects in Terang, Gippsland, Barwon and Wollert.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the batteries will put downward pressure on energy prices.

“The more storage we have in our system … the cheaper power bills will be,” she said.

But Opposition Leader Matthew Guy questioned how effective the $157 million package would be in relieving hip-pocket pressure for households.

“It’s not a bad suggestion but, at the end of the day, Victorians need cost of living relief today. They can’t afford to wait until 2035,” he said.

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