|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
The Victorian Solar Energy Research Committee was established in May 1977 by Cabinet directive for the purpose of promoting and reviewing all solar energy research, development and demonstration activities within Victoria.
The Committee consisted of a Chairman with members selected and seconded from employers in related fields such as: the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria (VA 1040), State Electricity Commission of Victoria (VA 1002), Department of Mechanical Engineering - University of Melbourne, Department of Minerals and Energy (VA 611), C.S.I.R.O.. Solar Engineering Unit, Public Works Department (VA 699), an Engineering Consultant and a member from the Victorian Brown Coal Council. The Committee reported to the Minister for Minerals and Energy.
The Committee liaised with Australian and overseas organisations involved in the field of solar energy research and development, and evaluated all solar energy research within Australia and, in particular, within Victoria. Grants were provided for the research, development and demonstration of solar energy projects which were constantly monitored and tested by the Committee. The Committee publicised solar energy developments and ways in which solar energy could be used by the public and industry.
In 1980, under the provisions of the Victorian Solar Energy Act 1980 (No.9387), the Victorian Solar Energy Council (VA 1396) was established on 17 December 1980 assuming the functions of the Victorian Solar Energy Research Committee. The Council consisted of a Chairman and three members appointed by the Governor-in-Council.
Under the provisions of the Act, solar energy was defined more broadly to include wind energy, field energy and fuels produced from biomass and wastes.
The Victorian Solar Energy Council supported and promoted the use of solar energy within Victoria. Grants were allocated for solar energy research for development and demonstration projects involving solar energy, and for the manufacture of solar energy systems and components. The Council was required to review and evaluate solar energy research, development and demonstration projects undertaken in Australia and elsewhere, with particular emphasis on their relevance for Victoria. The Council liaised with organisations concerned with research into and the development, demonstration or manufacturing of solar energy systems or components.
Additionally, the Council provided advice on how solar energy could be utilised within industry, commerce and by the public and published the benefits of its use in enhancing Australian and Victorian energy resources.
Under the Act, the Minister could established advisory committees, to advise the Council on any matters relevant to its function. Several such committees were appointed.
As part of the Victorian Solar Energy Council Act 1980 (No.9387) the Council was nominated for review by the Public Bodies Review Committee on 1 July 1990. A review was undertaken during 1989 to look at the Council's future role and direction. There were two main recommendations from the review: that there was a need to promote renewable energy in Victoria (energy conservation should be incorporated into the Council's constitution) and the Department of Industry and Office of Economic Planning (VA 3005) should prepare a renewable energy and energy conservation strategy.
The Renewable Energy Authority Victoria was established on 1 July 1990 under the Renewable Energy Authority Victoria Act 1990 (No.40) replacing the Victorian Solar Energy Council. The Energy Information and Education Centre (jointly administered by the Gas and Fuel Corporation (VA 1040), the State Electricity Commission (VA 1002) and the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources (VA 2661)) transferred to the Authority. With this amalgamation the Authority assumed all functions previously administered by the two agencies and operates under the name of Energy Victoria. The amalgamation allowed for greater control of education in energy efficiency and for the encouragement and promotion of energy conservation.
The Authority reported direct to the Minister and was controlled by a Board which consisted of a Chairperson, the General Manager, five people appointed by the Governor-in-Council and an observer appointed by the Minister from the Department of Manufacturing and Industry Development (or its successors).
The Renewable Energy Authority Victoria supported and promoted the research, development and use of renewable energy and energy conservation. Renewable energy includes energy from the sun, wind, waves, tides, the hydrological cycle, biomass and geothermal sources. The Authority provided information and advice on the utilisation of renewable energy and the benefits of energy conservation, to all areas of the Victorian community, including public sector departments and authorities responsible for the supply, development and utilisation of energy. Grants were allocated for the encouragement, promotion and development of an economically viable renewable energy and energy conservation industry, and to provide an incentive for research and the development and demonstration of projects.
Renewable energy and energy conservation educational programs wereundertaken by the Authority. These programs concentrated on primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
The Victorian Government has given a commitment to reduce gases by the year 2005 and the Renewable Energy Authority was to play an important role in this program. The Authority's strategies included:
concentration on the end use of energy rather than supply; and
the provision of information and expertise in renewable energy and energy conservation and education programs.
In 2000 the Government passed the Renewable Energy Authority Victoria (Amendment) Act (to be retitled the Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria Act). The Renewable Energy Authority was abolished and replaced by the Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria. The main purpose was to alter the composition of the authority and its objectives and functions. The functions of the new authority are:
provide independent energy saving advice and information;
promote the benefits of energy conservation in the community;
encourage and facilitate the adoption of sound energy management practices in government and business;
promote energy labelling of appliances and energy efficient house design;
advise the Minister on policies concerning energy efficiency and renewable energy.
In December 2002, as part of a cabinet reshuffle following the re-election of the Bracks government, responsibility for the Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria transferred from the Minister for Energy and Resources (VRG 133) to the Minister for Environment (VRG 147).