The renewable energy construction boom in Victoria is on track to create more than 6,000 annual jobs, according to a new analysis.
As of August 2018, large-scale wind and solar projects under construction in Victoria had created 5,169 job years of employment – meaning one person working full time for one year – overtaking Queensland with 5,156, according to an analysis by Green Energy Markets released by GetUp on Tuesday.
When the remainder of the projects greenlit under Victoria’s renewable energy auction come online, job years of employment will increase to 6,072.
Victoria has 26 operational large-scale wind and solar projects, 12 under construction and 28 with planning approval.
But the Green Energy Markets director of analysis, Tristan Edis, said that without federal policy intervention the construction boom would being tapering off in 2020, because the large-scale generation certificates scheme would be over-supplied.
Renewable energy made up 25.5% of the electricity fed into the major east and west coast power grids in August, enough to power 12.1m homes, the report said.
As of August there were another 6,184MW of new large-scale renewable energy projects under construction, creating 15,511 jobs, the bulk of which were in Queensland and Victoria. Wind generation accounted for 54% of the new projects and the remainder were large-scale solar.
“We have now more than replaced Hazelwood [coal-fired power station] and we are well on the way with the extra generation coming online in advance replacing Liddell [coal-fired] power station [which is scheduled to close in 2022],” Edis said. “We are going to see a drop-off in the wholesale power price in around 2020, going to levels where we say it’s not sustainable to finance a new large-scale solar or wind farm because the power price will be too low.”
The number of jobs associated with renewable energy drop by a factor of 18 from 2.4 per megawatt during construction to 0.13 per megawatt during operation, he said.
He said that with the new generators coming online, Australia had already exceeded both its large-scale renewable energy target of 33,000GWh, and the original higher target of 41,000GWh.
Labor said during the debate on the now abandoned national energy guarantee that it would increase Australia’s emissions reduction target from 26% to 45% if it won government at the next election. It has also committed to using a market-based mechanism to ensure that 50% of Australia’s electricity needs are generated through renewable energy by 2030.
“[A Labor victory] is potentially quite likely but no one would be actually taking action on the basis of that,” the Grattan Institute energy program director, Tony Wood, said.
Wood said in the absence of a clear energy policy there would not be further renewable energy investment in Australia.
He said higher, longer-term targets would create a steady demand rather than the “series of tidal waves” that had characterised the industry to date, where pending projects were put on hold and then built all at once. That would be better for both energy suppliers and workers, Wood said.
The GetUp campaigns director, Miriam Lyons, said the lack of a clear federal policy on energy and emissions reduction was an “embarrassment”.
On Sunday, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said Australia would meet its Paris target “in a canter” despite figures released on Friday showing emissions increased 1.3% in the year to March 2018.
Victoria and Queensland also on track to meet their state-based renewable energy generations targets of 40% and 50% respectively by 2030.
Victorian environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the construction jobs were the product of a record investment in renewable energy and that investment would be under threat if the Coalition won the state election next month.
NSW currently leads the number of jobs in the rooftop solar installation industry, followed by Queensland, Victoria and WA, although jobs in rooftop solar in Victoria are forecast to increase due to its $2250 solar panel rebate.
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