The Sunshine State has never been shy in bragging about its solar riches, and after losing the 2019 State of Origin Series to New South Wales, Queensland’s solar boasting has only intensified.
Over the weekend QLD’s Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham boasted that QLD’s rooftops and solar farms together had just passed the 4000 MW milestone for generating capacity. That’s more than double the capacity of the state’s biggest power station at Gladstone, which produces 1680 MW.
“More than 560,000 Queensland rooves now sport solar systems and 30 solar farms are now generating across the state,” Dr Lynham said.
Lynham put the state’s solar uptake down to the incentives provided by the Palaszczuk Government’s Affordable Energy Plan, which he says are “fuelling the renewable energy switch by Queenslanders and unlocking new market segments and jobs for solar installers.”
This despite the fact that the Government’s Solar for Renters program is moving at the pace of a particularly lethargic snail, and the Government spent much of the year fighting to implement a contentious solar installation regulation, a regulation the solar industry argued would cost jobs, delay installations, make some projects unviable and could even push up the cost of commercial and industrial solar systems by some 20%.
Nevertheless, it cannot be said that QLD’s program has had the same manner of detrimental industrial impacts as Victoria’s Solar Homes program, though VIC has made amends. Indeed, the Affordable Energy Plan has been productive on the whole. “Under our solar and battery scheme that provides loans and grants, almost 2500 households and small businesses have installed a battery system,” said Lynham, “with a further 1500 people with approval to do so before the program ends mid next year.”
One in three Queensland households now has solar, more than any other Australian state and making it one of the world’s leading per-capita solar utilisers. Moreover, solar uptake in Queensland is gaining speed. In the past 12 months, approximately 1400 MW of solar energy has come online.
Dr Lynham said Queensland was on track to achieve its 50% renewable energy target by 2030, and was forecast to hit 20% this year. “And we are also turning our remote isolated communities renewable,” noted Lynham, “like Lockhart River and Doomadgee Aboriginal communities, where solar is replacing expensive, high emission diesel.”
“Work is underway extending an existing solar farm at Doomadgee,” continued Lynham, “Mapoon is next cab off the rank, and government officials have started talks with Pormapuraaw Aboriginal Shire and the Northern Peninsula Area Regional councils.”