Labor dials up its renewable energy target to 50 per cent by 2030
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Labor dials up its renewable energy target to 50 per cent by 2030

Half of Victoria’s energy could come from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro power within 12 years, if the Andrews government is re-elected.

The Age can reveal that Labor will promise to raise Victoria’s renewable energy target from 40 per cent to 50 per cent by 2030 if it wins this month’s election.

The move would enhance Labor's green credentials and cement the state's transition away from coal as its primary power source.

Victoria has already legislated renewable energy targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025, although the Coalition has promised to scrap the targets if it wins the November 24 election.

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Labor is moving to strengthen the contrast in energy policy with the Coalition, which is yet to unveil a substantial emissions policy.

But Labor’s pledge is also a pitch to inner-city voters where the Andrews government faces a major threat from the Greens in at least two electorates - Brunswick and Richmond.

The move may also inflame tensions with the Commonwealth, which clashed with the Victorian government over its refusal to sign on to the National Energy Guarantee.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor wants to preserve the reliability component of the guarantee but has said emissions are not a policy priority.

Australia has an internationally agreed target to cut its emissions by 26-28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the targets would help deliver about $9 billion of investment in the renewables sector and create more than 11,000 jobs over the life of the scheme.

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Labor estimates that the target would help deliver up to 5400 megawatts of new, large scale renewable energy capacity into the state’s grid in the next seven years and that 732MW of new renewable capacity had already been built under Labor.

A further 3000MW was either under construction or contracted to be built, the minister said.

Labor held Victoria's first renewable energy auction in September, aimed at delivering 928MW of green power with the six projects across the state producing enough electricity for 646,273 households.

The government said this was the equivalent of powering the cities of Ballarat, Bendigo, and Geelong.

Lily D'Ambrosio,  Daniel Andrews and Sarah De Santis in Ararat to announce a renewable energy auction.

Lily D'Ambrosio, Daniel Andrews and Sarah De Santis in Ararat to announce a renewable energy auction.Credit:Twitter

The power produced by these projects is also expected to drive a 16 per cent reduction in Victoria's electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2034/2035.

Boosting the renewable energy target comes on top of the government's work to cut power bills for Victorians.

Labor has already promised to deliver half-price solar panels to 650,000 households under a $1.2 billion election sweetener. In addition, it has pledged to contribute towards the cost of household solar batteries for those who already have solar panels in another $40 million program.

Roof top solar panels

Roof top solar panels Credit:Fairfax Media

Labor has also promised to establish a Morwell-based government agency to manage its solar homes program.

The Latrobe Valley was hit hard by job losses when the Hazelwood power station and coal mine closed.

The Coalition has committed to providing state schools with access to solar panels and batteries.

It said its promise would provide more than 700 schools with solar power with a target of having all “suitable” schools equipped with photovoltaic systems by 2025.

Jeff Kennett and the Liberals privatised Victoria's power industry, promising competition would lead to cheaper electricity prices, but critics say the only winners have been the big energy companies making large profits while Victorians pay higher prices.

Benjamin is a state political reporter

State Political Correspondent for The Age

Noel Towell is State Political Editor for The Age