A New South Wales Government Minister has said he wants his state to be the ‘California of Australia’ for renewable energy as part of the opening proceedings for Clean Energy Week’s Policy and Finance Conference.

New South Wales Environment Minister Rob Stokes said the state could be ‘Australia’s answer to California’, which was one of the world leaders in renewable energy innovation and development.

“We’re on the cusp of a truly exciting time for energy and the environment, with NSW positioned to take a very strong lead. We have the technology, the skills and, through my government, the policy intent,” Mr Stokes said.

“There is a great opportunity for NSW to work with the Abbott Government to make NSW and Australia the place to do clean energy business. We’ve got unique resources and unique opportunities. It’s now our job to convince business and communities to take these up.

Mr Stokes said his government was committed to the fixed 41,000 gigawatt-hours of large-scale renewable generation written into the Renewable Energy Target legislation.

“We certainly support the 41,000 gigawatt-hour target. We think 41,000 gigawatt-hours is where we should go, but that is only the beginning,” he said.

Mr Stokes also used the opportunity to announce a “resource efficiency” policy aimed at ensuring that government office sites generated around a third of their energy needs from solar power.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for the Department of Industry Bob Baldwin said that, contrary to claims by the Greens and Labor, his government was not abandoning renewable energy.

“We recognise the important role of renewable energy in contributing to Australia’s energy mix and we expect Australia will continue to access energy from a diverse range of sources,” Mr Baldwin said.

“It’s through this diversity that we can secure our energy future - by not putting all our eggs into the one energy basket.

“I’m pleased the Clean Energy Council shares the government’s commitment to an ‘open for business’ policy.”

Mr Baldwin said the Federal Government would release its energy white paper by the end of the year, which would provide clarity about its strategy for the future of energy in Australia.

Federal Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Mark Butler extended an olive branch to the Federal Government, urging a return to the political bipartisanship that had been a feature of the sector for many years.

“The Renewable Energy Target review has devastated confidence in this sector. If Tony Abbott was to restore a bipartisan consensus to renewable energy, it seems likely that investment would return relatively quickly,” Mr Butler said.

“The Renewable Energy Target was never intended as a ceiling. It was intended as a floor. If we could do more, that would be fantastic.”

Clean Energy Week 2014 is proudly sponsored by Trina Solar and NAB. Held across two venues in Sydney, Clean Energy Week incorporates ATRAA (Australia's largest solar event), a huge trade show, a Policy and Finance Conference, and a professional development day for solar installers.

The program includes prominent local and international experts, politicians, financiers and business leaders. The event runs from 22-25 July 2014.

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.