Royalla Solar Farm outside of Canberra, ACT
The Royalla Solar Farm in Canberra's south. Image Credit: Allan Sharpe

ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury has told a renewable energy business forum in Canberra that the ACT Government will continue to champion the renewable energy sector undeterred by moves to “attack” the sector by Federal counterparts.

“The ACT will continue to stand up as a renewable energy leader, despite the Federal Government’s attacks on renewable energy and its baffling focus on so-called ‘clean coal’.” Minister Rattenbury said at the forum held at the Renewables Innovation Hub in Canberra on Tuesday.

ACT to remain clean energy leader

In a separate statement, Minister Rattenbury dismissed the claims from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that it was necessary for more fossil fuel power stations to be built in Australia.

“The ACT rejects the Turnbull Government’s reckless endorsement of new coal and gas, and calls on the other states and territories to join with us in rejecting the Prime Minister’s calls to burn more fossil fuels.” Minister Rattenbury said.

“State based renewable electricity targets are increasingly important since the Turnbull Government killed off the possibility for an emissions intensity trading scheme for electricity sector late last year. And, here in the ACT, our solar and wind prices are some of the lowest in the country.”

Speaking at a business forum hosted by South-East Region of Renewable Energy Excellence initiative (SERREE), Minister Rattenbury said that the Federal Government should be looking to the ACT as an example of what could be achieved when Governments embrace the renewable energy sector.

ACT Greens Minister Rattenbury highlighted the economic benefits that had come with the setting ambitious renewable energy targets and attracting businesses to Canberra. The ACT has contracted for 100 per cent of its electricity to be supplied by renewable energy sources by 2020 and worked to provide support for new businesses to establish a presence in the national capital.

“By investing in renewable energy, not only are we doing the right thing for the environment and Australia’s energy future, but we’re being rewarded with economic, business and innovation opportunities.”

“For example, the ACT’s Innovation Hub is rapidly being populated by a variety of businesses working in the renewable energy sector, we’ve attracted around $1.5 billion in renewable energy and infrastructure investment and delivered a 400 percent growth in renewable energy jobs over the last five years.  We’ve attracted over $400 million of investment to the local economy.” Minister Rattenbury said.

The business forum hosted by SERREE brought together businesses based in the Canberra and surrounding region, as well as policy makers from the ACT and Federal Governments.

SERREE has supported the formation of a local industry cluster that includes some of Australia’s largest renewable energy companies. Many have been attracted to the territory by the incentives offered by the ACT Government. These include Perovskite solar cell developer Dyesol, wind farm developer WindLab and solar farm developer Neoen, who have major operations in or around the ACT.

Successful ACT business forum

Director of the SERREE Initiative, Ms Liz Veitch, was encouraged by the turnout and engagement of ventures located in the ACT region at the forum.

“An outstanding success, with delegates noting the value of the SERREE Industry Cluster’s role in fostering links across the renewable energy sector that help to form partnerships and joint ventures to further strengthen the economic development of the region.” Ms Veitch said.

“The renewable energy industry is dynamic and exciting in this ACT and south east NSW region, with both sides of the border bringing special interests and value to further growing the ‘renewables pie’, and both also benefitting from this growth.”

“This region is also home to some of the biggest and best of each of the renewable energy technologies in Australia, as presented along the SERREE Renewable Energy Trail.”

Several large projects that have been built within the ACT, including 43 Megawatts of large-scale solar generation capacity installed across three sites, have created demand for local business through tenders for equipment and earthworks.

To reach the 100% target, an additional 600 Megawatts of generation capacity to be supplied by wind farms outside the ACT, receiving support via feed-in tariffs awarded at reverse auctions.

Flow on benefits for ACT economy

The delivery of major wind projects has brought additional benefits to the ACT with developers locating operations in the territory as well as supporting research and development of energy storage technologies.

“All of the wind companies we have funded are headquartered in the ACT, seeding the potential for further development and bringing jobs to Canberra.” Minister Rattenbury said.

“Being at the forefront of solar-storage will provide a significant opportunity for the ACT to lead research into high-penetration renewables and attract international and national companies, and research leaders, in this emerging space”.

Achieving the 100% renewable energy target is a core piece of the ACT Government’s plan towards reaching its emissions reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

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