DUBBO has become the latest council to throw its support behind a proposal which could see the region become a leader in Australia's renewable energy economy.
The Solar Energy eXchange Initiative (SEXI) proposal calls for up to $200 million in federal funding for six solar energy projects in western NSW, including the installation of $1 million of photovoltaic panels in each of the council areas involved in the project. The remaining funds would be used to build five concentrating solar power plants across western NSW at a cost of $20 million to $40 million each.
There are now 27 councils that have provided in-principle support to the project, which equates to at least 60 per cent of the state's land area according to project co-ordinator, Dubbo civil engineer Matt Parmeter.
"I think it shows that there's a lot of community support for the proposal," Mr Parmeter said.
"The likelihood is that there won't be another coal fired power station built in Australia, we'll move to renewables so inland NSW wants to set itself up to take advantage of that new economy. We can turn our natural advantages - land and sunshine - into cash.
"That's what the future is and Dubbo councillors can obviously see that future and is trying to position themselves to take advantage."
Greens senator Lee Rhiannon visited the central west this week to see some of the renewable energy initiatives already underway in the region, including the Nyngan solar plant, and said the extent of the projects surprised her.
"They're much more extensive and much more groundbreaking than I had realised," Senator Rhiannon said.
"When I'm in Canberra and when I'm in Sydney, I just don't think that people have the understanding of how advanced and large scale these projects are. Western NSW is really playing an incredibly leading role, possibly the leading role in Australia with regard to large scale solar energy and I don't think that's understood."
"Now the government of the day need to stack up with resources so the SEXI projects can be implemented across western NSW. Renewable energy isn't just about climate change, it isn't just about the environment - it brings a jobs rich future."
Dubbo City Council mayor Mathew Dickerson said Dubbo is already the leading the nation in solar panels per capita, and the council was excited to get on board with SEXI.
"There's a physical cost saving there. Economically a great injection, but I like the idea of somewhere like Dubbo being a leader. And obviously the proposal put forward is asking the federal government to back this," Cr Dickerson said.
"I think we're way past just digging stuff up out of the ground and burning it."
Mr Parmeter and senator Rhiannon will continue to lobby the federal government to commit the $200 million to get the SEXI project off the ground.
"Our big challenge is to obviously get the funding from the federal government," Mr Parmeter said
"It is always difficult to get funding. That remains a challenge but I think Dubbo City Council's motion yet again demonstrates the deep level of support and the belief in a renewable energy future, jobs in inland NSW, a sustainable economy in inland NSW."
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