Australian state pledges to triple wind and solar power

The government of New South Wales in Australia has announced that it will triple the amount of wind and solar energy installations in the state by 2020.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a draft, “renewable energy action" plan, confirms the government’s existing commitment to a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, up from about 8 per cent today, but claims this can be done mainly with money from private investors, and will not be taken from the public purse.

Wind power generates about 652 GW hours of energy in NSW, but that would be lifted to something closer to 8000 GW hours under the government's plan - which means thousands more turbines dotting rural landscapes.

The plan lists 28 "actions" that it said would contribute to achieving the 20 per cent renewable energy target.

The action points include ways of better energy network connections so that large-scale solar power projects can be connected to the grid, and the appointment of a dedicated "renewable energy advocate" to streamline negotiations over new renewable investment and facilitate connections to the power grid.

The government is also reviewing wind farm planning guidelines, to make more "strategic" wind farm approvals, and will release a new energy efficiency strategy, that will involve reappraising all existing energy efficiency programs.

It will ask the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to come up with a "fair" tariff price for solar panel rebates to replace the solar bonus scheme.

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