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Australia’s Victoria State Fast-Tracks Renewable Energy Projects

The Victoria state government in Australia is accelerating planning approvals for renewable energy projects to ensure clean energy capacity gets built faster and easier, Victoria’s Premier Jacinta Allan said on Thursday.

Under the new plan, renewable energy projects in Victoria will be eligible for an accelerated planning pathway under the Development Facilitation Program (DFP), which will treat these projects the same as other significant works.   

Since 2015, more than one in five renewable energy applications have ended up in Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), and have been stuck on a shelf not being built, the government of Victoria said.

In the new plan, all new renewable projects in Victoria will be treated as significant economic development, which makes them eligible for an accelerated pathway and remove the planning panel process and third-party appeals at VCAT. Renewable projects currently stuck in approvals will also be able to access the accelerated pathway, the government added.

The state currently has around US$59.4 billion (AUS$90 billion) worth of investment value in renewable projects in the pipeline, all of which could create 15,000 jobs.

“The current system means that important projects can be tied up for years seeking approval. It delays construction and deters investment, and instead of spinning turbines, we’re too often left spinning our wheels,” Premier Allan said in a statement.

Victoria’s Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio added,

“Victoria’s old coal fired generators are closing and the cost of fossil fuels are rising globally – and streamlining planning approvals for the cheapest form of new build power generation is so important.”

The project planning reform is “an encouraging step in supporting the state’s energy transition,” said Australia’s Clean Energy Council, the clean energy industry association.

“This isn’t a shortcut on good planning outcomes, or the high standards that renewable energy projects must and should meet, but it is a sensible reform that recognises the vital importance of renewable energy in driving down emissions and replacing ageing and polluting coal-fired power stations,” the industry body noted.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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