A new government authority would leverage $5 billion of construction in new clean energy generation over the next four years, under a Greens plan to drive Australia’s transition to a renewable energy economy.

The $500 million government authority, dubbed RenewAustralia, would administer reverse auctions and direct investment in renewable projects, alongside an expanded Renewable Energy Target (RET). It would also be tasked with assisting communities and workers to transition as coal-fired power stations close down.

The policy is part of a plan to achieve 90 per cent renewable energy in Australia by 2030, the full details of which were revealed by the Greens on 22 November.

Australian Greens spokesperson on Treasury, Energy and Industry, Adam Bandt MP, said RenewAustralia will bring down the cost of electricity for 21st century industry and households.

“The Greens want to ‘power up’ the country, so RenewAustralia will increase our overall electricity production by about 50 per cent and help double our energy efficiency by 2030. This will mean more jobs in the electricity sector and more jobs in new industries looking for cheaper, clean power.

“By setting tough pollution standards, RenewAustralia will enable the gradual, staged closure of coal-fired power stations as renewable energy capacity increases. Communities and workers will be supported through the transition with the assistance of a well-resourced fund,” Mr Bandt said.

The Greens plan promises to achieve the following:

  • Ensure that energy generation is at least 90 per cent renewable by 2030 and Australia’s energy efficiency is doubled.
  • Establish a new $500 million government authority – RenewAustralia – to leverage $5 billion of construction in new energy generation over the next four years.
  • Create a $250 million Clean Energy Transition Fund to assist coal workers and communities with the transition.
  • Implement pollution intensity standards to enable the gradual, staged closure of coal-fired power stations, starting with Hazelwood in Victoria.
  • Put a price back on pollution with a market-based emissions trading scheme.

The Greens’ plan is by far the most ambitious of any of the major political parties: Labor has a target of 50 per cent by 2030, while the Turnbull Government is aiming for just 23.5 per cent by 2020.

Expanding the RET

The plan presents two possible scenarios to achieve the target of at least 90 per cent clean power, with the main difference lying in the amount of rooftop solar generation that may be achieved by 2030. The second, more optimistic, scenario estimates approximately 29,000 GWh of residential rooftop generation and 10,700 GWh of commercial rooftop generation by 2030.

Both scenarios include the continuation of the Large-scale RET, with a target of 52,500 GWh of generation by 2030.

The Greens also propose the phased shutdown of nearly all of Australia’s fossil fuel-burning power stations, starting with Hazelwood in 2017-18. The mechanism the Greens propose for this is state-based pollution intensity standards that become tighter over time. Once a power station went above the set pollution target, it would become subject to the direction of the energy regulator, who would have the statutory power to order that some or all of the units of a generator be decommissioned.

The Greens have published a state-by-state plan for emissions intensity standards, along with a decommissioning timetable for the dirtiest power plants.