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NT Labor unveils renewables plan

AAP logoAAP 14/08/2016 Neda Vanovac

A target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 is a "sensible and achievable" goal, the Northern Territory's Labor opposition says.

Opposition Leader Michael Gunner launched his party's renewables policy on Sunday, saying that keeping power utilities in public hands was a crucial part of the plan.

If elected on August 27, Labor is promising $5 million to install solar panels on school roofs and to educate children about "the solar jobs of the future", as well as $5 million to develop Alice Springs as a centre for excellence in renewable energy.

Any power price rises during this time will be capped at CPI, Labor says.

Currently, approximately less than three per cent of the NT's power is generated by renewable energy, so the Labor target seeks to multiply that almost 20 times within 14 years.

"It's not so simple as slapping a few solar cells on roofs, you have to get integration of the network right and how you get the smart grid working," Mr Gunner said of the longer-term plan.

Photovoltaics are now competitive in terms of the cost of generating power, said Alan Langworthy, the former head of Powercorp who will head the proposed renewables taskforce.

The Country Liberals government has derided Labor's plan, previously pointing to a report into making the Owen Springs power station in central Australia fully solar would cost up to $2 billion and would almost quadruple wholesale power prices due to the cost of seven-day battery storage in case of cloudy weather.

But Mr Langworthy said the proposed 50-50 model would be backed up by existing gas supplies.

"Those statements are just erroneous and, in my view, scaremongering," he told reporters.

"If there's a cloudy day and the solar input is low, then the gas generators will generate and put power into the grid. That's where your energy storage is, in the gas system that will still be there."

Mr Langworthy said the renewables target shouldn't be a burden on the public purse when the current gas supply deal expires in 2026.

Labor says it would wait for the findings of its taskforce, which would be due at the end of next year, to determine how it would proceed.

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