A Climate Council-commissioned report into creating sustainable and clean employment suggests 20,000 jobs could be created in Victoria through investment in renewable energy.
While not providing hard-and-fast existing projects for every job it proposes could be created, the Clean Jobs Plan says almost half of the employment could be made in regional Victoria.
Conducted by consultancy firm AlphaBeta, which specialises in data analysis and economic forecasting, the Clean Jobs Plan advocates for policies which could create jobs lost to the COVID-19 downturn.
"Victoria has seen steep job losses throughout the COVID pandemic," AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton writes in the report.
"But with the right policy measures, 4,000 jobs could be created for both low and high skilled workers across the state in large-scale renewables, transmission upgrades and battery storage. Such initiatives will help Victoria meet its Renewable Energy Target of 50 per cent by 2030."
Charlton says every dollar of public investment in large scale renewables would unlock three dollars of private investment in the economy.
In Ballarat, support for the aims of the Climate Council Clean Jobs Plan have come from across the building and social sectors.
Eureka Concrete operations manager Ryan Waight says the last 12 to 18 months have shown how important new wind farm development is to the building and construction industry in the region, with the Stockyard Hill project a case in point.
"The contract for Stockyard Hill windfarm, in between Skipton and Beaufort, that was 140-odd turbines and towers," Mr Waight says.
"Now for us that generated effectively a second business. We had to pick up a chunk of our business and move it out there. And with that was manpower and machinery. It grew our business by nearly 50 per cent.
So they're big projects, wind farms, especially for construction companies such as ours: concrete, civil (engineering), electronics; it presents a power of work, not just with our internal employees but also our external subcontractors such as engineers, mechanics, electricians and so forth.Eureka Concrete operations manager Ryan Waight
The report claims 'up to 4,000 jobs could be created in large-scale renewable energy; up to 2,200 jobs in active and public transport; up to 2,000 jobs in urban and peri-urban gardens; up to 450 jobs in education and training. Some jobs could be created now; all would be created within 3 years.'
Across Australia the plan suggests 42 per cent of the job opportunities identified are located in regional areas. Two big ticket items are large-scale renewable energy and ecosystem restoration.
However, the report acknowledges the 'analysis does not identify every job that can be created. Instead, it focuses on targeting regions and occupations hit hardest by job losses and on programs that can create jobs quickly.'
Despite the blueprint nature of the plan, the Wind Alliance's Tony Goodfellow says there are 'shovel-ready' renewable economy jobs already underway in the Ballarat region already.
"One of the shovel-ready wind farms is Golden Plains," Mr Goodfellow says.
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"That wind farm is quite large, and straight off the bat there would be 700 construction jobs to instal the turbines. Once it's completed there'd be 70 ongoing jobs. So it's quite large and doesn't include the downstream manufacturing which can also be fostered.
"There's also Mount Fyans. There's another one in south-west Victoria and one in Gippsland, the Delburn wind farm going through the planning process."
Mr Goodfellow says it's the prerogative of both federal and state governments to continue to assist renewable energy to both grow in employment and lower even further its carbon footprint.
He says it currently takes about six months to erase the footprint caused by the use of concrete in building wind farm sites, and roadmaps like that made by the Grampians New Energy Taskforce (GNET) are crucial.
"To lower them further probably requires larger policy settings, national and state," Mr Goodfellow says.
"We're in the middle of an energy transition right now. If the coal generators start to break down, there's not much incentive to keep them going."
Ballarat City Council deputy mayor Belinda Coates says the Clean Jobs Plan and the Climate Council are joining many voices saying the same thing: that jobs are important; that the COVID pandemic has accentuated the severity of job losses both generally and locally; and there is a win-win in the renewable economy.
"Whether they are called 'clean jobs', or 'green jobs', or 'new green deals', it's the same message... we need to tap into that rich area of renewable growth, and Ballarat is in a hotspot to do that," Cr Coates says.
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