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The Liberals of Western Australia embrace Renewable energy, plan to ditch coal in the new plan

Western Australia (WA) opposition leader Zak Kirkup has unveiled a new plan to develop renewable energy infrastructure in a project worth about $9 billion. The mega-project will create new jobs worth approximately $400 million. By 2030, WA targets to reach a zero-carbon emission. This means there will be changes in the transport system, state vehicle fleet, and the electricity grid network. This mega project includes 1500MW wind and solar plants in the midwest region. The project will be completed by 2025  to transform WA’s transmission lines in an initiative estimated to cost $500 million. The energy network will be extended from Three Springs to Geraldton. Energy from renewable sources will power the South West Interconnected System.

“Our plan will assist companies’ transition to green exports and independent clean energy operations-if they choose,” said Kirkup. This project will not affect the private sector. Instead, it will deliver new jobs to the Australian workforce, expand the economy and the energy network, and lower energy costs for homes and businesses. “I want to make it perfectly clear that this will not impact the private sector. This is about the government’s emissions and leading by example,” Kirkup added. “It is a mega-project, building the largest renewable energy project in Australia’s history, with the wind, solar and large-scale batteries that will transform Western Australia’s energy system for the next 50 years and give WA fuel security and energy independence,” said Kirkup.

Sustainability experts think this plan is valid. “They’ve got a partnership with the private sector to enable it. It’s not a huge amount of money. In fact, it is the kind of infrastructure changes that are needed to put us into the world of renewable energy in a much more substantial way,” said Professor Peter Newman, sustainability expert from Curtin University.

The ruling government has dismissed this initiative saying the Opposition cannot be trusted. “On the eve of the election, suddenly, the Liberal Party that for ten years has fought any action on climate, any action on renewable, any action on hydrogen, suddenly realizes a policy embracing all of them. They cannot be trusted,” said Australia’s Premier, Mark McGowan.

Other party leaders echoed the Premier’s sentiments. “The Liberals cannot be trusted to take climate action, and the future of our planet and our community should not be left in the hands of private corporations,” said Tim Clifford, Greens climate change spokesperson. Clifford’s party wants Western Australia to make its energy sources 100% renewable by 2030.

The federal government is not ready to let go of coal despite embracing renewable energy. The National Party is advocating for more investments in coal. However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pushing for zero-carbon levels by mid-century.

The Liberals think their plan is in line with the Prime minister’s ambitions. “We’re not fundamentally at odds at all. The reality is the Prime Minister has set an ambitious target for where Australia needs to be. What we are saying is that as a state government, we have a target now of 2030, that’s for zero emissions for the state government,” said Kirkup.

Coal mines could face closure soon as the government embraces renewable energy. Two of the coal mines at Muja Power Station in Collie will shut down between 2022 and 2024. Collie-Preston MP, Mick Murray, said coal production in his region would go on for the next 15 years, but the production would reduce in a gradual process to ensure a balance in the state’s power needs. “To come out and say you are finished, you’ve got three years, what has that done to the confidence we’ve been building in this town for the last couple of years?” asked Murray.

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