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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

6 April 2003

Queen Victoria Market and Solar Energy - Our Past Meets Our Future


Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said today our past has met our future with solar energy now powering the historic Queen Victoria Market thanks to $750,000 in funding from the Howard Government.

The funds were provided to the City of Melbourne under the $54 million Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program (RECP), which provides support for renewable technology initiatives with strong commercial potential and is part of the Howard Government's $300 million commitment to encourage the use and development of renewable energy technologies.

"The Queen Victoria Market offers an excellent opportunity to promote renewable energy technology with nearly half a million tourists and 8 million visitors overall every year," Dr Kemp said.

"This intriguing project shows it is possible to marry renewable energy technologies with heritage architecture in a way that is achievable, functional and reduces both greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs."

The City of Melbourne - which received the $750,000 under Round 4 of the RECP - also contributed $1 million towards the project cost.

"This is a unique initiative in that there are no other similar projects that have taken place on heritage buildings in Australia," Dr Kemp said.

"Seventeen hundred square metres of photovoltaic solar panels were in the last few months installed on the roofs of sheds C, D and E of the markets as their orientation and pitch are ideal for solar panels, giving maximum output and minimizing installation costs.

"These panels will produce 250 megawatt hours of electricity a year, the equivalent to the average electricity consumption of over 60 houses. The building was previously using an estimated 900 megawatt hours per annum of conventional electricity.

"This solar installation provides a 30% reduction in the amount of electricity purchased annually by the market. It is also estimated the project will save approximately 11,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases over the next 30 years."

Dr Kemp said Australia is a world leader in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the Howard Government investing almost $1 billion to fight greenhouse.

"The Howard Government will continue to develop and invest in domestic programs to meet the target agreed to at Kyoto of limiting greenhouse emissions to 108% of 1990 levels over the period 2008 to 2012," he said.

"By the end of this decade, the Howard Government's $1 billion greenhouse abatement programs will deliver about 60 million tonnes annually in emissions reductions - the equivalent of taking all passenger cars off Australia's roads. This forms a strong platform on which to develop Australia's Forward Strategy on Climate Change."

Media Contacts:
Nicky Deitz (Dr Kemp's office) 0439 438 500
Gerry Morvell (Australian Greenhouse Office) 0407 772 435


Renewable Energy Development Initiatives

The Howard Government is strongly committed to increasing the use of renewable energy in Australia as a way of meeting our increasing energy needs without adding to our greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, it has committed some $377 million in programs to support the commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy technologies and related industry development, and has legislated to create a world-first, guaranteed market for 9,500 GWh of new renewable electricity generation by 2010, through the Mandatory Renewable Energy target.

The Mandatory 9,500GWh Target
World-first legislation that guarantees enough new renewable electricity is generated over the next 10 years to supply the residential needs of a city of 4 million people came into force on 1 April 2001. By 2010, the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target will have increased the contribution of renewable energy sources in Australia's electricity mix to 9,500 GWh per annum. This initiative is being achieved by establishing an innovative market in renewable energy certificates, and is expected to deliver in excess of $2 billion of new investment in renewable energy in Australia.

Renewable Remote Power Generation
The Australian Greenhouse Office is implementing a program to increase the uptake of renewable energy technology in remote areas of Australia not serviced by a main electricity grid. Rebates are provided for up to 50% of the capital cost of converting diesel based electricity supplies to renewable energy technologies. Program funds of up to $264 million over ten years are derived from excise paid on diesel used to generate electricity by public electricity generators.

Projects supported include the Bushlight Project, which focuses on the provision of renewable energy in small remote indigenous communities, and the Bulman and Kings Canyon project which will test the effectiveness of larger renewable energy installations under different tropical climactic conditions. A large wind farm has also been approved for funding for Esperance. Further applications for large off-grid projects are currently being considered.

Supporting Photovoltaic Systems
To increase the use of photovoltaic technology in Australia, funding is available to enable householders and owners of community buildings, such as schools, to install photovoltaic systems. Cash rebates are available for grid-connected or stand-alone photovoltaic systems. $31 million is available to the program, which should fund about 6,000 systems, each averaging around 1kW (peak), over the life of the program.

Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program (RECP)
This five year competitive grants program has made over $50 million available to foster the development of the renewable energy industry in Australia. With two components - commercialisation and industry development - the program supports and promotes strategically important renewable energy technology initiatives that have strong commercial potential, and supports projects that will contribute to the development of a sustainable, internationally competitive renewable energy industry in Australia.

Some 49 projects have been supported under the commercialisation component, covering a range of renewable applications such as wind, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic, biomass, wave energy, hot dry rock and enabling technologies. Such projects include the Narrogin integrated wood processing plant that not only will produce renewable energy, but will also help to combat salinity, sequester carbon and produce eucalyptus oil and activated carbon for sale as by-products. Other examples include a project to develop a small high efficiency biomass to electricity system, suitable for use in a range of rural industries and an innovative solar power station for the Anangu Pitjantjatjara lands, located in the north-west corner of South Australia, which will use the latest solar dish technology developed by Australian company, Solar Systems.

Renewable Energy Industry Development (REID) Program
This is a sub-program of the RECP, with funding of $6 million over four years. 35 grants totalling $3.5 million have been provided to date. Projects supported include funding to establish a national facility dedicated to testing and accrediting renewable energy systems. Through this project, Australia will have a state of the art renewable energy testing laboratory of international standard. Grants have also been provided to a number of organisations and industry associations to enable them to develop resource assessment, training and accreditation programs, standards and best practice guidelines to lift the quality and reliability of renewable energy installations. Associations include the Sustainable Energy Industry Association, the Australian EcoGeneration Association, the ANZ Solar Energy Society, the Waste Management Association of Australia, and the Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWEA). A recently completed project was the development of Best Practice Guidelines for Wind Energy Projects in Australia, produced by AusWEA with AGO funding. Summaries of the projects supported under the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program are at the AGO web site at http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/recp/index.html

Renewable Energy Equity Fund
The Renewable Energy Equity Fund provides venture capital for small companies seeking to commercialise innovative renewable energy technologies. The Commonwealth is providing $17.7 million in funding, which is boosted to about $26.6 million by private sector capital. An independent private fund manager makes investments in accordance with set guidelines. Companies that have received support under this program are Battery Energy, Wind Corporation Australia, Novera Energy, Geodynamics and Superior Energy Systems.

Renewable Energy Action Agenda
The Howard Government, in partnership with the renewable energy industry, has launched a Renewable Energy Action Agenda. This Action Agenda provides a strategic policy framework for the development of a sustainable and competitive renewable energy industry in Australia, that aims for growth in annual industry sales to $4 billion, by 2010.

Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap
The Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap builds on the directions identified in the Renewable Energy Action Agenda. The roadmap analyses strategic technology development crucial to establishing and maintaining long term competitive advantage. It outlines a long term research and development plan that defines the industry's collective future and establishes clear pathways forward for each technology.

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