Victoria is turning to renewables to help drive the state’s economic recovery from covid-19 with the government announcing a market sounding for 600MW of new, clean, affordable electricity.

Minister for Energy, the Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio will test industry interest and capacity for new solar, wind and other renewable energy projects.

The market sounding process will test the capacity of industry to deliver at least a further 600MW of renewable energy – enough to power every hospital and school in Victoria, Melbourne’s train network and a range of other government infrastructure and services.

The process will also explore the potential for electricity-reliant industries and businesses to buy renewable energy along with government through this process.

In 2017, the Victorian Government sought 650MW of renewable energy through the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET), which exceeded its target and delivered 928MW of new capacity.

The state is on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy target of 25% and procuring new generation will make a significant contribution to meeting the 2025 target of 40% renewable energy, and the legislated target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“It’s not only good for our economy, it will deliver more reliable, affordable energy to households across Victoria,” D’Ambrosio said. “We know Victorians are doing it tough and affordable reliable power is more important than ever – this will help
to deliver that as well as creating jobs and stimulating the economy.”

The Clean Energy Council welcomed as a positive step following recent analysis from the Clean Energy Council showing that investment in large-scale renewable energy projects had stalled.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said that plans for a “clean recovery” should boost the morale of all Victorians.

“The timing of today’s news couldn’t be better – Victorians want to know what’s on the horizon following a terrible six months. Local job creation, a more secure energy supply and a means to address climate change are all ahead as Victoria works towards 50 per cent renewables over the next decade,” Thornton said.

“It will be critical to ensure these projects can connect to the grid. We’re pleased to hear that the Victorian government is supporting the streamlining of the grid connection process and also the development of the renewable energy zone model to ensure these projects can contribute positively to the grid while providing investor confidence.”

The CEC estimates 900 construction jobs along with 120 operation and maintenance jobs could be created through the new projects.