Not one to waste a good media opportunity, the Victorian government has used visiting former US vice-president Al Gore to launch its new Renewable Energy Action Plan, which it says contains the largest spending commitment to renewables from a Victorian government in history.

The plan commits $146 million to projects, including $25 million to40 megawatt of battery storage and 100MWh of capacity in the west of Victoria, set to be completed by summer 2018.

“We will achieve this by delivering a minimum of two 20MW batteries in western Victoria, to support battery storage becoming mainstream,” the plan states.

“We will also provide $100,000 towards a $150,000 pre-feasibility study of solar pumped hydro using groundwater in Bendigo.”

The plan also sees $48.1 million spent on purchasing renewable energy certificates, some of which will go towards making sure the entire 400-strong tram fleet is powered by solar.

“Under our Renewable Certificates Purchasing Initiative we will use government’s purchasing power as a large electricity user to purchase renewable energy certificates.”

The certificates will come from two new Victorian wind farms with a total generation capacity of 100MW.

A second round of funding is set to underpin 75MW of new large-scale solar, 35MW of which will be used to power the tram system.

An additional $15.8 million will be spent on smart software systems, solar and battery storage microgrid initiatives.

“The Renewable Energy Action Plan will help us deliver affordable, sustainable and reliable energy for Victoria,” energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“This funding represents the most significant government investment in renewable energy in Victoria’s history.

“We need to ensure that the new energy technology sector is equipped to create jobs, attract investment and grow the economy for the benefit of all Victorians – and we’re doing just that.”

The plan forms part of the government’s commitment to have 25 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025, key planks of its 2050 net zero emissions target.

A forthcoming $53 million Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy is also expected to help cut 34 megatonnes of CO2 by 2030, save businesses $6.7 billion and support 2500 jobs a year.

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