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Australia’s New South Wales announces A$32bn renewables push

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has unveiled its energy road map, with plans for a drastic shift away from coal that it hopes will attract A$32bn (£17bn) in private investment.

Under the roadmap, the local government has laid out a 20-year road map for its electricity infrastructure which will include energy storage such as pumped hydro and on-demand supply, including gas and batteries.

It hoped the plans will create around 10,000 jobs and bring an additional 12GW of wind and solar power onto the grid, alongside 2GW of stored energy.

Australia’s Labor Party has analysed the plan and believes it will boost the share of renewable energy in the state from 16 per cent today to more than 60 per cent by 2030.

With four of its five coal-fired power plants expected to close in the next 15 years, the new energy facilities should help to close the gap created by their closure.

The government is set to hold auctions for private firms that will give them a guaranteed minimum floor price for the energy the produce on the land allocated by the renewables plan.

“Our priority is to keep the lights on and get power prices down, with the road map forecast to save NSW households an average of $130 and small businesses an average of $430 on their electricity bills each year,” said Matt Kean, Australia’s environment and energy minister.

Australia is so far well short of meeting its Paris Agreement targets of cutting carbon emissions by 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

With Australia being a major exporter of coal, prime minister Scott Morrison has been reluctant to introduce many country-wide initiatives designed at tackling climate change.

With US president-elect Joe Biden saying that his country will rejoin the Paris climate deal on day one of his administration, this could push close allies such as Australia to take more stringent measures.

However, Morrison has already said that Biden’s election would not fundamentally change Australia’s climate policies. “Australia will always set its policies based on Australia’s national interests,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Last year, record-breaking heatwaves near Melbourne led to a series of power outages as businesses and homes turned on their air-conditioning units to combat the extreme temperatures.

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