New economic modelling reveals renewable energy projects could help Victorians rejoin workforce

By Rodney Woods

Solar farms could pose huge employment potential for regional Victoria, but more investment is needed to deliver on the region's potential, according to one local council.

New economic modelling from strategy and economic advisory company AlphaBeta has found 4000 jobs could be created in the renewable energy sector.

Yet Gannawarra Shire Council economic development manager Roger Griffiths said some key things stand in the way.

He said although jobs in regional Victoria were desperately needed, the only way to see the full potential of employment benefits in the renewable energy sector was if the infrastructure was upgraded.

“I think it (renewable energy jobs) is a critical aspect of diversifying the economy in regional Victoria,” Mr Griffiths said.

“I think the critical thing is putting more jobs in regional Victoria.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs.

“We need jobs to support the retail industry and the building industry and renewable energy investment should be a no brainer.

“(But) we are not seeing the employment benefits because solar farms aren't being built and won't be built until the network is upgraded.

“The transmission line between Bendigo and Mildura is in urgent need of an upgrade.”

The northern Victorian region is already home to a number of completed or approved solar farms including at Drumanure, Glenrowan, Finley and near Quambatook.

Climate Council chief executive officer Amanda McKenzie said fast tracking the development of solar projects would benefit regional communities.

“Economic recovery is a national priority, and all governments have a crucial role to play in making targeted investments,” Ms McKenzie said.

“There are a huge number of job opportunities in regional Victoria in renewable power, transmission and storage.”

Victoria's Energy and Climate Change Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said Victoria was already leading the way when it comes to renewal energy sector job creation.

“Victoria is leading the nation in renewable energy employment, with nearly one-third of all jobs in the sector based here in Victoria,” Ms D'Ambrosio said.

“The Victorian Renewable Energy Target of 50 per cent by 2030 will create more than 24,000 jobs and drive an additional $5.8 billion of economic activity in our state.”

The Clean Jobs Plan was commissioned by the Climate Council.