Energy Minister Throws Backing Behind ‘Exciting’ Solar Projects

SOLAR WITH A VIEW: Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Indi MP Cathy McGowan heard about renewable energy plans for Winton Wetlands during a visit yesterday. Picture: SHANA MORGAN

A renewable energy future for the Border has received far more support from the federal Coalition ministry than it did just a year ago when solar schemes were described as “mad”.

On that occasion it was Senator Matt Canavan who said people pushing for Yackandandah to become 100 per cent reliant on solar energy were living in a “fantasy land”.

But when Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg visited the region yesterday, he described the federal government as a strong supporter of renewable energy.

He did not directly address Senator Canavan’s comments when they were put to him, but said it was exciting to meet with Totally Renewable Yackandandah members and hear about their pilot project to store and share energy between homes.

“To see them take the lead in initiating this project with rooftop solar, with their own battery storage and talking about pumped hydro opportunities … micro grids are absolutely part of the future, as we see more communities go off the grid it’s important they have the backup of storage and supply - unfortunately in Australia this has been the missing piece of the energy jigsaw for some time,” he said.

“There’s a dramatic transformation that’s taking place in Australia’s energy system, a once in a lifetime transformation as we move into the world of micro-grids, demand management, rooftop solar and battery storage.”

"There's a dramatic transformation that's taking place in Australia's energy system, a once in a lifetime transformation."
- Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg

The minister also met with the Winton Wetlands management committee to discuss a feasibility study for a 10 megawatt solar plant, and was promoting $12.5 million in Australian Renewable Energy Agency grants available for solar pilot projects to make communities self-sufficient.

“We were talking about making sure people were not left behind by the investments in renewable energy, in particular those who can’t necessarily afford to get the solar panels on their homes,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Indi MP Cathy McGowan said some communities and councils had already begun work on their applications for the ARENA funding and was confident they would be competitive.

“We’ve got a long way to go before we’ve actually got the security that we need, but I think today is a really good step forward,” she said.

- Originally published by the Border Mail, March 19 2018