Industry expert calls for government policies to drive renewable energy in Latrobe Valley

We can create clean jobs now - what are we waiting for?

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Energy industry stalwart Chris Barfoot says the Latrobe Valley's power workforce needs investment and policy to fast-track the region as a renewable energy powerhouse. PHOTO: Shutterstock

Energy industry stalwart Chris Barfoot says the Latrobe Valley's power workforce needs investment and policy to fast-track the region as a renewable energy powerhouse. PHOTO: Shutterstock

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Renewable energy investments and policy can help put Australia on-track for a better future.

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As Australians face a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks, thoughts of recovery seem a long way off.

But more than one million jobs have been lost across the country and young people are some of the hardest hit.

So, we need a plan to get these Australians back to work.

Our state and federal governments have a crucial role to play in this through targeted investments and interventions.

But what if we could invest now in projects that will get our country back to work, secure our energy supply and address long-term economic and climate risks?

New modelling from economics advisory firm AlphaBeta Advisors shows targeted investment in big ticket infrastructure projects - such as large-scale renewable energy, public transport and commercial and residential energy efficiency retrofits - could get up to 76,000 Australians into work quickly.

More than 40 per cent of the jobs identified by the company are based in regional areas.

We're talking about job creation - starting right away - in roles that will need minimal training and re-skilling.

And, what's more, these jobs will help to create a better future.

This will come from cheaper electricity, more comfortable homes and - crucially - by addressing the challenges of climate change.

As someone who has worked in the Latrobe Valley coal-fired power industry for decades, I believe the need for investment in large-scale renewables is made even more acute when you take into account Australia's ageing coal power infrastructure.

For example, Gippsland's mighty coal energy generators - which have powered Victoria for half a century - are nearing the end of their utility lifespan.

Yallourn Power Station will close in the next few years. This means we are facing big job losses.

The Latrobe Valley power workforce needs investment and policy that will fast-track our next big industry as a renewable energy powerhouse.

This would see an immediate economic benefit, putting cash back into the area and creating hundreds of jobs for the skilled, energy-literate workforce that we have in this region.

What's more, investing in renewables would put Victoria and Australia on the path to net-zero emissions.

This will help to protect our economy from the future shocks we can expect from climate change.

The projects are here in regional Australia, the will is here and the infrastructure is here.

Now we need the green light from our federal and state governments to create the renewable energy job opportunities that will not just put our country back on track, but put it on a track to a better future.

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