New Jobs Energy Plan powers up Western Australia

25 Feb 2021

We are pleased to regularly invite editorials from our elected representatives across Australia. With the State Election WA fast approaching, this month we hear from Dr David Honey MLA and Member for Cottesloe. David is the WA Shadow Minister for Energy; Renewables & Hydrogen; Water; Industrial Development and Lands and here he talks about the Opposition’s net zero vision and their plan to make it a reality.

There are few places in the world that can compete with Western Australia’s abundant renewable energy sources, with around a half of Australia’s wind and around a third of Australia’s solar electricity generation potential. A mixed wind/solar facility in our Midwest has unusually steady output across 24 hours and capacity factors (average electricity output as a percentage of system design capacity) in this region are amongst the highest in the world. 

The Liberal Party believes that the State Government has a responsibility to show leadership by committing to zero net carbon emissions for Government-owned electricity generation and transport by 2030.   

Most WA households have seen substantial utility cost rises in the past 4 years (average $850 per household). This policy will actually reduce electricity costs. Independent analysis of our policy by Renew Economy shows that its implementation will result in electricity costs 10% lower than those expected if the Labor Party policy is continued. 

The Liberal Party’s New Jobs Energy Plan aims to increase renewable electricity capacity into Western Power’s South West Interconnected System (SWIS) by another 1,500 MW to allow the retirement of the Government-owned coal-fired electricity generation capacity by 2025, reducing the Government’s carbon emissions by around 84%.   

Renewable electricity needs adequate backup to guarantee supply stability. That is why the plan includes a 500 MW mega battery array to provide additional short-term electricity stability.    

The SWIS already has significant backup capacity. Compared with average total daily electricity demand in the SWIS of around 2,500 MW, there is over 3,000 MW of non-coal and non-renewable electricity generation capacity already connected (mostly gas and diesel). Government-owned coal-fired electricity generation capacity will only be 740 MW (around 30% of demand) by 2024 and these stations only operate for around 50% of the time. Over time and as technology is proven, the backup electricity capacity can be taken over by batteries, hydrogen and other energy storage technologies, such as pumped hydro, vanadium flow batteries or geothermal power. 

Most people in Western Australia enjoy an enviable lifestyle, in the larger part because of our iron ore, natural gas and other resource industry exports. We need to plan now for the jobs of the future.  The next major industrial revolution will be based on low-cost green energy. This won’t happen by chance and we need to catalyse that transition with appropriate Government support. To do this, we are funding a number of initiatives to support the establishment of these new industries in Western Australia, which will create thousands of new jobs in green manufacturing: 

  • $100 million Industry Attraction Fund to attract companies to WA to develop priority industries.  
  • $100 million International Market Diversification Fund to expand international markets for existing WA industries.  This fund would also support the implementation of an International Markets Advisory Council reporting to the Premier.  
  • $50 million Critical and Strategic Manufacturing Fund to incentivise industries deemed essential to the WA economy.  
  • In addition to these funds, the Liberal’s New Energy Jobs Plan will also invest $100 million in a real plan to transition workers in the coal industry into long-term, secure jobs.  

We were pleased to receive very positive affirmation for our policy from LG – the world’s biggest manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries – who wrote to the WA Liberal Leader, Zak Kirkup, to welcome the policy and say that they would look to WA for “large scale investment into processing and value adding in the lithium and battery component space as this plan comes to fruition”.  

The WA Liberal’s New Jobs Energy Plan is a bold initiative that looks to a future that offers cheaper electricity prices and the potential for thousands of high-quality new jobs.  It also meets the community’s expectation that our State Government show leadership in decarbonising our economy.