Image Credit: Stephen Beaumont

The Victorian Government has announced it will tender for a new large-scale solar farm to power Melbourne’s tram network.  The solar farm will be built in regional Victoria and will contribute to efforts to reduce the State’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Andrews Government is seeking submissions to build a 75 Megawatt solar farm, with an estimated total investment of $150 million. It is anticipating that it will be able to complete the tender process by late 2017 with first generation from the solar farm to commence before the end of 2018.

The Government estimates approximately 35 Megawatts of solar generation will be tied to the consumption of Melbourne’s trams, with the Victorian Government to voluntarily surrender a matching number of Renewable Energy Certificates against consumption.

The electrification of transport systems, followed by shifting the electricity supply to renewable energy, is becoming a core strategy used by state governments in driving down greenhouse gas emissions.

The Victorian Government has committed to a target of reaching zero-net emissions by 2050 and is using the shift to renewable powered transport as a step towards achieving that target.

“We will use our purchasing power as a large energy consumer to boost investment in renewables and create new jobs for Victorians.” Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said in a statement.

“We’re positioning Victoria as a leader in climate change, by reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts.” Minister D’Ambrosio added.

Friends of the Earth, which has been running the Yes2Renewables campaign, welcomed the decision, noting that the transport energy plan would help Victoria meet both its renewable energy and emission reduction targets.

“Powering one of the world’s largest tram networks with solar will cut emissions while boosting jobs and investment in regional Victoria,“ Friends of the Earth’s Renewable Energy spokesperson Pat Simons said.

The Victorian announcement follows similar plans for renewable energy powered light rail currently under construction in the ACT. The first stage of the ACT’s electric light rail network is currently under construction, with the territory contracting to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.     

The Victorian Government is hoping that up to 300 jobs will be created throughout the construction of the solar farm supported by the tender.

“We’ve got the biggest tram network in the world and we’re powering it with renewables and creating local jobs.” Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan.

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