The Victorian Auditor General’s Office has released an audit report stating the state is falling short of its renewable energy targets and while several external factors have played a role, performance has been undermined by poor planning.
Currently, around 96 per cent of the electricity consumed by Victoria is generated from fossil fuels, with brown coal – the filthiest of fossil fuels – accounting for 90%. The burning of brown coal for electricity generation by facilities such as Hazelwood power station has such a huge environmental impact that it produces around 55 per cent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
A meagre 3.9 per cent of Victoria’s electricity generation comes from renewable energy sources, including solar panels.
The audit found that neither the setting of renewable energy targets, nor the establishment of investment incentives, has delivered expected results and Victoria’s capacity to generate renewable energy “is not on track to deliver future targets”.
The Auditor say investment to increase Victoria’s solar energy generation from around 26 GWh in 2009 to 2, 500 GWh (5 per cent of total electricity generation) by 2020 will require effective planning.
The auditor’s findings specifically mentions concerns with two publicly funded large-scale solar projects that were “not supported by a documented assessment of need; nor were business cases completed before these major investments were approved.” The auditor recommends a cost-benefit analysis for the solar energy targets and the Victorian Large Scale Solar Feed-in Tariff.
According to Melbourne-based national solar power solutions provider Energy Matters, while Victoria may be struggling with large scale solar initiatives, the home solar power sector is booming, with a rush on systems currently occurring due to the Federal Government’s Solar Credits rebate being drastically reduced soon.
The company says it is offering special deals on solar power systems in Victoria to help ensure as many households as possible can take advantage of the full-strength Solar Credits subsidy and join Victoria’s solar energy revolution before the deadline.