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Australia's NSW Pledges Streamlined Renewables Planning Process

Australia's NSW Pledges Streamlined Renewables Planning Process

New South Wales, Australia's most-populous state, promised to streamline planning and improve network connections to attract renewable energy investment.

The steps are contained in a draft plan released today by the state’s energy minister outlining measures New South Wales will take to meet Australia’s goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. To support large-scale solar projects, the state will contribute $A65 million ($67 million) for the development of the Solar Flagships project in Broken Hill and Nyngan northwest of Sydney, the report said.

“Building a strong renewable energy industry is vital to supporting employment and helping grow the NSW economy,” energy minister Chris Hartcher said in a statement.

New South Wales is Australia’s largest producer of renewable energy with installed capacity of 5.4 gigawatts, the report said. Renewables, including hydroelectric power, solar, wind and geothermal energy, will more than double to about 12 gigawatts based on projects already under construction or approved by the state, according to the report.

Improvements to the planning process are among 28 action points outlined. Others include measures to improve energy efficiency and the development of a smart meter policy. The state also promised to establish a “fair” price for solar.

Renewables accounted for just under 10 percent of all power generation across Australia in the 12 months to October 2011, according to the Clean Energy Council, an industry body. Renewables totaled about 7.8 percent of all power in New South Wales last year, with the bulk of that coming from the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme, according to the draft plan.

“Securing the Solar Flagships project demonstrates NSW is an attractive place to invest and has the right business settings,” Hartcher said in the statement.

Copyright 2012 Bloomberg

Lead image: Australia via Shutterstock

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