Via Greensblog, news that the Greens have announced a new policy aimed at combining the need for an alternative power generating system other than coal, and the need to maintain rural incomes and communities.
So, Farming Renewable Energy proposes a three-stage process to help struggling farmers become renewable energy generators, supplementing their income, revitalising their communities with jobs and investment, and keeping regional Australia alive.
The first stage is overlaying maps of climate vulnerability with maps of renewable energy resources and identifying the areas where there is a strong overlap. For solar, in particular, this will be considerable. Once there is an indication of areas, a process of consultation would begin, drawing together the communities with the industry and the three levels of government. This is about identifying specific regions which want to take up the offer, and developing the vital relationships to make it happen.
Finally, Renewable Energy Development Zones would be declared, where large-scale investment would be attracted by the highly streamlined approvals process (because much of the work would already have been done), existing relationships and, importantly, government investment (using funds gathered via emissions trading permit sales) to support skills development and paying for high voltage interconnectors to the main electricity grid where necessary.
This policy appeals to me in terms of addressing two problems with an elegant solution. There’s a lot more detail in the Greensblog post, which contains links to further documents on Greens Senators own sites.
I could handle seeing a bit of me-too-ism from the LibNats and Labs on some policies from the non-major parties, truly I could.