BENDIGO will need to be bold to meet ambitious 100 per cent renewable energy targets by the end of the decade, a specialist says ahead of a public forum that could birth a game plan.
Discussions should include community-owned solar farms and batteries, according to energy and climate policy specialist Benjy Lee.
"Bendigo can position itself as the solar capital of Victoria and attract that national focus," he said.
Mr Lee will speak next week at a community forum about what might be possible if Bendigo gets out ahead of other communities and levels of government.
The meeting is being organised by the City of Greater Bendigo, which wants to discuss ideas for major projects.
It remains unclear how close Bendigo could get to 100 per cent renewables.
The council was reluctant to promise it can go all the way, though it wanted to get as close as possible without counting "net zero" offsets like tree plantings.
Mr Lee had no crystal ball but said even getting to 80 per cent renewables would be a great outcome and far ahead of many others in Australia.
He said exactly how 100 per cent renewables could happen would only become possible once every key stakeholder was in the room, had a plan to measure performance and had "landmark" projects to kick off with.
There would also need to be a plan to deal with challenges around distribution networks, Mr Lee said.
"It takes organisations and communities to push the boundaries and get as far as we possibly can, as quick as we possibly can," Mr Lee said.
"You'll never see me putting a lid on what can be achieved because aspirations are super important."
Failing to act will result in lost opportunities in an energy system that will change anyway, Greater Bendigo Climate Collaboration co-ordinator Ian McBurney said.
"It will happen to us, or we can shape it for our benefit," he said.
The emerging solar energy market has typically been dominated by private companies.
Community-led projects are finding innovative approaches and governments are increasingly open to them, Mr Lee said.
He hoped all levels of government would follow the lead of Bendigo and create more incentives for communities to move fast towards 100 per cent renewables.
The city is ideally placed at the gateway into wider energy markets as billions of dollars is spent linking communities with new transmission infrastructure, he said.
The forum is one of at least six being organised between now and May 2023 when the city will host a climate summit.
The free forum is open to all. Register to attend by clicking here.
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