Group predicts benefits for Bendigo from renewed focus on renewables

Bendigo Sustainability Group president Chris Weir says manufacturers in Bendigo could capitalise on the future need for solar farms in the state's north. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Bendigo Sustainability Group president Chris Weir says manufacturers in Bendigo could capitalise on the future need for solar farms in the state's north. Picture: DARREN HOWE

BENDIGO could cash in on Victoria’s looming renewable energy boom as demand for manufacturing increases, the Bendigo Sustainability Group believes.

The state government announced on Wednesday a 25 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, and a 40 per cent target by 2025 as Victoria transitions away from coal.

The target will be enshrined in law this week, and also includes plans for a 650 megawatt renewable energy reverse auction and two new solar farms in the state’s north.

Bendigo Sustainability Group president Chris Weir said there was still a lot of work to be done before Victoria could reach the targets, but was confident it would benefit Bendigo.

“They’ve created a pathway for energy certainty,” he said.

“It will encourage infrastructure and employment, and we see it as a great policy for our region.

“Bendigo is the gateway for the state’s north west, the most productive area for solar. We are also at the geographical heart of the state.

“There will be opportunities for manufacturers.”

The state government also predicts the renewable energy target will put downward pressure on power prices, cutting household costs by $30 per year, and medium business energy costs by $2500 per year.

But the savings could take a little time to flow through.

The closure of the coal-fired power station at Hazelwood means Victoria will need to rely more on peaking gas power stations in times of high demand.

As gas prices increase with the international price, energy costs are expected to rise rapidly in the short-term.

Mr Weir said this would turn around once the government had built the required infrastructure for renewable energy.

This includes two solar farms – one 100 megawatts, the other 38 megawatts – at Robinvale and Numurkah. The successful tenders were announced on Wednesday, and the projects could be complete within years.

Coal power stations are likely to continue to close in Victoria as they reached their end-of-life dates, but their power production could be replaced by advances in renewable technology – including battery storage.

The renewable energy target was set for 2025 to align with the expiry of the federal target. The Coalition government has yet to state its policy beyond 2025.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the renewable energy target would create more jobs in regional Victoria.