The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will issue an open tender in the first half of this year to build Victoria’s first large-scale solar farms with a capacity of 75MW, by the end of 2018. The government says the tender will generate $A 150m ($US 113m) in capital investment and 300 jobs.

Around 35MW of power from the proposed solar farms will be linked to Melbourne’s tram network with the government voluntarily surrendering renewable energy certificates to match the amount of electricity used by all of Melbourne’s trams.

This will result in a reduction of more than 80,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year and the initiative will keep Victoria on track to meet its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“We will use our purchasing power as a large energy consumer to boost investment in renewables and create new jobs for Victorians,” says environment and energy minister Mrs Lily D’Ambrosio. “We’re positioning Victoria as a leader in climate change, by reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts.”

At 250km, the Melbourne tram network is the largest in the world, carrying 204 million passengers annually. It is operated by private consortium Yarra Trams on behalf of Public Transport Victoria.

According to a 2015 government report on Victoria’s renewable energy targets, just 12% of Victoria’s electricity supply in 2014 was renewable, while 84% came from coal.