The Victorian Coalition has unveiled plans to extend the life of existing coal generators and underwrite the construction of a new 500MW power plant, to create a new source of “24/7” electricity for the state.

The energy policy, unveiled this week by shadow energy minister David Southwick, will tender for at least 500MW of new capacity to supply government services.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the announcement from the Victorian Liberal Party is an acknowledgement of the important role government has in providing long-term investor certainty.

“While new initiatives to encourage investment are welcome, governments must exercise caution in designing these programs to ensure they work to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future, rather than delay it further. It is critical that the Victorian Liberal Party program delivers on the commitment to secure the best deal for taxpayers and consumers, through being technology neutral and supporting the lowest cost new projects.

“On current trends, the lowest cost dispatchable power stations are renewable energy combined with energy storage. Our industry is confident that clean energy would prevail in a tender for new power generation, as long as it is a fair and competitive process which does not include barriers which deliberately disadvantage renewable energy such as wind and solar.  Any fossil fuel plant should also have to meet the local content requirements that the Victorian Liberal Party has recently announced for clean energy projects.

“The renewable energy sector in Victoria is currently building 19 projects which will deliver over 3200 megawatts of new generation worth more than $5 billion, as well as creating close to 4000 direct jobs. This investment has been largely driven by the national and the current Victorian Government strong renewable energy targets. In this context, a new 500MW project commitment is modest, and is no substitute for a long-term energy strategy that would give investors the confidence to invest in Victoria.

“The Clean Energy Council welcomes initiatives designed to encourage more private sector investment in renewable energy generation.”