High power prices drive green energy

RISING power costs are driving a push for NSW to catch up with the rest of Australia on renewable energy, and the plan has the support of the union representing coal miners.

Renewable energy currently makes up only 7% of the state's power supply, compared to 40% in South Australia.

Federal Labor's move to a 50% renewable energy target by 2030 has the support of the CFMEU, but only if it is done right.

"With thermal electricity plants closing one by one, we need a clear focus on redeploying workers to jobs in the sector, including to remaining plants with continuous vacancies due to their age profile," CFMEU national president Tony Maher said.

"Retraining and redeployment would require a serious analysis of the vacancies available in the energy and mining sectors, where workers' skills are transferable, combined with government intervention and financial support to help individual workers and regional communities in any transition."

The union urged the Federal Government to take clean energy seriously.

"The real danger is inaction. The Abbott Government's plan is to rely on a misguided faith in the market, which will ultimately send workers to the scrapheap - just as it has in the automotive industry."

Australian renewable energy project developer Infigen Energy chief Miles George told a conference in Sydney the future was bright for the industry in NSW.

"Market prices have risen to the point where they are approaching what is required for new-build economics (of renewable power plants)," he said.


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