The importance of state government support for renewable energy is critical to help major projects such as wind and solar farms get off the ground, according to speakers in the opening session of the Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney today.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said Australia’s state governments understood the full benefit offered by renewable energy, particularly the investment and jobs in rural parts of the country where opportunities were otherwise sparse.

“Thankfully state and local governments have already chosen the road to clean energy. The ACT has been a beacon, South Australia continues to lead the country for renewable energy deployment, while Victoria and Queensland are now looking to restore their leadership. New South Wales and Tasmania have made strong public commitments,” he said.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the national debate over the last 18 months meant the states needed to play a greater role in encouraging renewable energy investment.    

“Everywhere I go in Victoria, people love renewable energy. And that is a fact. We are determined to grow clean energy jobs and business opportunities,” said Ms D’Ambrosio. “The new $450m wind farm in Ararat is a good example of making the energy sector cleaner and creating investment and jobs.”

ACT Environment Minister and Attorney-General Simon Corbell, whose government had introduced an innovative reverse auction scheme to encourage wind and solar farms, said the “corrosive” nature of the national clean energy debate left a more prominent role for state and territory governments.

“Strong policies are critical to allow renewable energy to scale up sufficiently. The ACT has demonstrated what is feasible with our reverse auction process, and we believe there is a big role for the states to play in encouraging more renewable energy.”  

Mr Corbell announced that a second round of its wind reverse auction scheme would be held later in the year, which would be a similar size to the first, which supported three wind farms.

The Australian Clean Energy Summit 2015 brings together renewable energy executives, along with politicians, government decision-makers, business leaders, analysts and financiers over two days at the Sydney Hilton. Presented by the Clean Energy Council, the event will explore the major opportunities and challenges involved with transforming the country’s energy sector to one that is cleaner and smarter.  

The Australian Clean Energy Summit 2015 runs from Wednesday 15 – Thursday 16 July.

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