The State of Victoria
- The State of Victoria
- 5.5 million (2010)
- A$293 billion (2010)
Victoria has the second highest population and GDP contribution of the Australian states despite being the second smallest by land area. Melbourne, the state capital, and its surroundings, are home to over 70% of the State’s population and the majority of its economic output. Outside this area, the region contains considerable biodiversity and geographical variety for its size, across mountains, grasslands, forests, wetlands and coasts.
Financial services, retail and other tertiary industries together form the greatest part of the economy, but manufacturing, transport and agriculture together account for 30%. These energy-intensive industries are responsible for a large part of the state’s carbon emissions.
Victoria has played a pioneering role in implementing the national Renewable Energy Target and in undertaking innovative energy efficiency programs. State targets include a reduction in overall emissions by 40% by 2050 from 2000 levels and a renewable energy target of 20% by 2020.
The bodies with responsibility for implementing measures to achieve these goals, and for helping the State meet its part of the national Kyoto emissions target by 2012, are the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Sustainable Victoria.
A A$4.5 billion Clean Energy Initiative will support a variety of clean technology projects including large-scale solar, of which four plants will be in operation by 2015. Since Australia is likely to remain a large exporter of coal to the world, the Clean Energy Initiative will also spend AU$2.4 billion in industrial scale CCS projects, including a carbon storage hub. AU$465 million will also be spent on research and development into new technologies from this fund.
Since 2004 all new homes must be built to a "5 star energy rating". The Energy Saver Incentive program offers discounts and special offers on energy efficient consumer products.
The Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET), set up in 2009, requires energy companies to meet their residential supply targets by helping customers implement energy efficiency measures.
The Environment Resource Efficiency Plan (EREP), Australia’s first industrial energy efficiency program, started in 2002, produces annual energy cost savings of over A$38 million for Victoria’s 250 biggest energy and water users.
In 2000, there was 0.09 megawatts (MW) of wind and 0.4MW of solar capacity installed in the State. As of 2011, 70MW of solar and over 400MW of wind power had been installed, with a further 3500MW of wind generation in development – the equivalent of two large coal power stations.
These rapid gains are in part thanks to the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, which requires the State to obtain 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Since 2009 a generous feed-in tariff has incentivized domestic installations to capture solar, wind and other forms of energy. Under this scheme, households will be paid 60 cents for every kilowatt hour of electricity fed back into the grid. The scheme is set to run until 2024.
Projects such as the Mildura Solar Concentrator demonstrate Victoria’s commitment to low carbon energy on a larger scale.
The Transport Integration Act 2010 created a framework for an integrated and sustainable transport system in Victoria. It will guide decisions and drive investment into green transport infrastructure in the State.
TravelSmart programs, consisting of investment in mass transit infrastructure, public awareness campaigns, and journey planning advice, have increased public transport ridership by up to 30%.
The State is trialing electric car charging infrastructure with an initial 180 volunteer households in 2011. All of the charging points will be powered by 100% renewable electricity.
Sustainable land use
The Government regulates land use and implements measures to prevent contamination of land and groundwater. In addition, a number of schemes such as ecoMarkets, Plantations for Greenhouse and the Plantation Investment Strategy, have seen over A$30 million go towards the promotion of soil health and the expansion of carbon sink forests.
Towards Zero Waste is a program that promotes sustainable resource management and a reduction in landfill waste. It is progressing well towards its 2014 targets, having exceeded interim waste recovery targets in 2009.
Victoria has invested over A$1 billion in the past ten years to promote recycling and increase capacity. Between 2006 and 2011 the percentage of waste recycled in Victoria rose from 62% to 69%.
Through its membership of the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA – founded in January 2009 – Australia has plans to leverage its natural advantages in sunlight in order to become an exporter of solar products.
In 2009, the Victorian Government entered into an agreement with Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Company (KEPCO) to collaborate on research and development into brown coal usage. This includes a A$269,000 project to research gasification for low carbon energy and CCS.
The Coburg Initiative forms part of a 12-year, A$1 billion initiative to make Coburg an internationally recognized sustainable city. It is overseen by Moreland Solar Cities, part of a national smart cities initiative.