Victoria lines up largest renewables auction in Australia

The state has moved to enshrine its energy targets in law, as it aims for 40% green power by 2025.

Victoria’s government has moved to cement its energy targets in law this week by introducing legislation to the State Parliament to ensure renewables capacity of 25 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025. 

The Victorian Renewable Energy Targets legislation comes alongside the largest renewable energy auction in Australia, according to the state premier Daniel Andrews. 

The first round of competitive auction under the state targets, which will tender for up to 650MW of wind and solar, will be conducted under a reverse auction mechanism. It is expected to generate as much as A$1.3 billion ($1 billion; €870 million) of investment in the area. 

“The renewable energy sector will now have the confidence to invest in renewable energy projects and the jobs that are crucial to Victoria’s future,” said Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. Government investment will be capped, she added.

A call for expressions of interest will open in October. These new projects could produce enough electricity to power Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, and the Latrobe Valley combined – or 389,000 households. 

The ambitious renewable targets are expected to cut the average cost of power for the state by around A$30 a year for households, A$2,500 a year for mid-size businesses, and A$140,000 annually for large companies. It would also drive a 16 percent reduction in electricity-sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2034-35. 

The state government has also selected two solar projects, with a combined 138MW of capacity, to power Melbourne’s tram network through a limited reverse auction launched early this January. The 100MW Bannerton Solar Park near Robinvale and a 38MW facility at Numerkah near Shepparton, which are now being developed by Foresight Solar Australia and Neoen Australia respectively, are expected to bring an additional investment of A$198 million to Victoria, the state government said.