QCC warns Queensland losing renewables race


In the 2020-2021 Queensland Budget released this week, the State Government formalised commitments made during the recent election campaign to set aside $500 million for renewable energy generation in the state.

The commitment complements the $145 million allocated to establish three Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) in northern, central and southern parts of the state.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the budget delivers the government’s campaign promises and, as a result, contains no “surprises for Queenslanders”.

QCC climate and energy campaigner Claire Fryer welcomed the funding but said the lack any new announcements on renewable energy was a missed opportunity to “stay in the game”.

“The Queensland Government needed to announce an extra boost if we are to keep up with southern states in the race to reach 100% renewables. Right now we are falling off the pace,” she said.

“Although this budget includes some of the great renewables promises that we welcomed before the election, such as the $500m Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and the $145m for Renewable Energy Zones, we are still in the early stages of shifting from the old polluting power of the past toward a new clean energy future.

“New South Wales successfully passed their Electricity Infrastructure Bill, seeking an additional 12 GW of generation and 2 GW of pumped hydro storage, while Victoria’s energy minister has secured $540 million for Renewable Energy Zones, nearly $800 million for energy efficiency programs and $200 million for transmission work.

“These are bold steps, and they mean Queensland risks being left behind in the race to become a renewable energy super power.”

Minister takes a swing

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the transition to renewables in Queensland is in full swing.

“Right now, renewables make up approximately 20% of Queensland’s energy mix, and that figure will more than double over the next decade as we aim for 50% by 2030,” he said.

“Across our entire state-owned fleet, we are investing over $2 billion into our energy assets to keep delivering the lowest wholesale electricity in Australia for industry.”

De Brenni said since 2015, 44 large-scale renewable energy projects have launched in Queensland and the REF will provide state-owned energy businesses Cleanco ,Stanwell, CS Energy, Energy Queensland and Powerlink with greater opportunities to build, own and operate renewable assets and transmission infrastructure.

Among the projects set to benefit from the REF is the 120.6 MW Karara Wind Farm which is expected to cost an estimated $250 million. CleanCo will construct the farm which will form part of a larger precinct currently being developed by the Australian arm of Spanish energy group Acciona. CleanCo has also agreed to buy an additional 400 MW of renewable energy from the conglomerate. The development is expected to go live on the grid from 2022.

De Brenni said the three REZs would also facilitate the state’s push to achieve its renewable energy goals by creating an investment environment to support the delivery of fit-for-purpose transmission infrastructure and capitalise on existing and in-the-pipeline projects.

“Already investors are lining up to get into these renewable energy zones with around 192 projects putting their hands up to build new, renewable generation and energy storage projects across the state,” he said.

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