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Solar power 'central to NSW sustainable aims'

13th Sep 2012

Energy ministers have unveiled a new renewable energy plan for NSW that highlights the importance of utility-scale solar projects in the state.

The proposal, which outlines 28 actions the NSW Government will take to ensure it achieves 20 per cent sustainable energy by 2020, comes hot on the heels of Canberra's announcement that it will be building Australia's biggest solar farm near Royalla.

While it may be cynical to suggest NSW is trying to steal Canberra's thunder, officials were quick to point out how vital their own large-scale operations are to the economy.

Energy minister Chris Hartcher claimed the state already boasted "world-class research development projects".

"NSW is also set to host the AGL-led Solar Flagships project that will see almost 160 MW of large-scale solar generation built at Broken Hill and Nyngan," he explained.

"Securing the Solar Flagships project demonstrates NSW is an attractive place to invest and has the right business settings. The Renewable Energy Action Plan will help us to continue attracting other renewable developments."

According to Hartcher, the state will only look to push forward with solutions that offer the best value for money, while continuing to garner investment and generate jobs.

In fact, the plan states around 6,000 new positions will be created by 2020 in the renewable energy technologies industry across construction, manufacturing and installation. 

And Hartcher says this will all come without any extra cost to the consumer, claiming: "We have heard loud and clear that people are fed up with soaring electricity prices."

But the plan is not merely about solar energy. Apparently, a main focus is to educate homeowners on energy efficiency in an effort to make them more aware of their energy usage.

By identifying ways of helping households to cut costs on their bills, it could save $2.8 billion a year, while ensuring annual energy savings of 16,000 Gwh within eight years' time.

Parliamentary secretary for renewable energy Rob Stokes stated the plan has incorporated feedback from the NSW Government's Solar Summit in 2011, as well as assistance from the Renewable Energy Taskforce.

It is important that people are given information about consumption, as well as the options available to them so that the state can meet its sustainable energy targets, Stokes added.

NSW communities have been invited to give their views on a draft of the plan, as well as get involved in an online forum discussing its development.

By Mike Peacock

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