Melbourne is getting a step closer to having its trams network powered by solar. The solar plant will be built in Victoria’s north-west and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. This initiative towards the tram network being entirely powered by solar energy is proposed by the Andrews government and is part of a plan to reduce the net carbon emissions of Victoria to zero by 2050. The Melbourne tram network is one of the largest networks in the world and at 250 kilometres can carry around 204 million passengers every year.
It was recently announced by the state government that the solar plant would have the capacity to produce 75MW of power. Half of that production would reportedly be linked to the tram network. Energy, Environment, and Climate Change Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said that the government would employ its purchasing power to boost the investment in renewables.
Tenders towards constructing the solar plant are expected to open in the first half of the year. This project is expected to create around 300 jobs. D’Ambrosio reiterated that the project would deliver 150 million Australian Dollars in capital investment.
The government stated that solar power which would be linked to Melbourne’s tram network would reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80,000 tons a year. The Andrews government approved the construction of two wind projects, the 30MW Kiata wind farm, and the 66MW Mt Gellibrand wind farm, in north-west Victoria.
D’Ambrosio reiterated that the 35MW of power would be sufficient for the 410 trams network in Melbourne. She said that even with the notional solar power arrangement the renewable energy growth would suffice and cover the needs of the tram network.
The renewable power producers further had the possibility of selling electricity and renewable energy certificates from the plant, which would give an edge to the potential revenue stream. Meanwhile, Opposition Energy Minister, David Southwick, said that the announcement would be unable to ease the pressure on families in regards to facing bills, and Chief Executive of Environment Victoria, Mark Wakefield, said that the tram network reverberated a symbolic power and was one of the most recognisable features being powered by renewable energy.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said that the investment in renewable energy in Victoria would create a momentum towards the national Renewable Energy Target. He went on to say that initiatives such as these would help Australia meet commitments towards emissions reduction.