The Queensland government has announced $7 million (USD 4.77 million) in funding to support the development of the Barcaldine Renewable Energy Zone (BREZ), an industrial precinct in the state’s central west which will use renewable energy sources to power and attract a range of manufacturing, critical minerals and agricultural businesses.
The BREZ, to be established near Barcaldine, will provide zero carbon low-cost energy for industrial users, as well as access to water, land, transport and communications and other services necessary for new industrial activities.
Sunshot Industries, chaired by eminent energy economist Ross Garnaut, said the “BREZ will pioneer sophisticated zero-emissions production of hydrogen, ammonia and urea, processing of minerals and intensive horticulture.”
Sunshot and its sister company Zen Energy will be responsible for supplying renewable energy to the tenants with a feasibility study outlining plans for 80 MW of wind and 90 MW of solar energy to be developed as demand increases and the industrial park grows.
Garnaut said the BREZ will provide a model for industrial development in regional areas across the country, generating industrial activity, employment and incomes, as well as inputs for agriculture and other local industries, all based on some of the world’s best combinations of renewable energy potential.
“Queensland has immense opportunities to use its rich renewable energy resources to underwrite the state’s greatest era of economic development,” he said. “The new zero-emissions industry can bring full employment and rising incomes for a growing population for as far ahead as we can see.”
Shotshot estimates that the precinct could create 500 permanent jobs and deliver $2.1 billion in economic benefits to the central-west region over 10 years and about $5.4 billion over 20 years.
Barcaldine has been chosen as the site for the industrial zone because of what Garnaut describes as the best grid-connected solar resource in the country, existing energy infrastructure, including a 132 kV transmission line connecting to the NEM, access to rail and road transport, and strong support from local and state government.
Garnaut said a number of companies have already expressed interest in establishing a presence in the proposed precinct.
Among the first business activities proposed are a commercial-scale green hydrogen, ammonia, and urea plant, and a minerals processing facility for the manufacture of vanadium electrolyte for use in vanadium flow batteries.
“There is active interest in a number of projects of various scale,” he said. “The budget decision will accelerate movement from active interest to real activity on the ground.”
The government funding will go towards the costs of the common user infrastructure, including road access, water and sewage infrastructure to support the establishment of the precinct.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the investment is hard evidence the state government is serious about investing in new industries and making sure every inch of Queensland gets a bite at the renewable energy cherry.
“Barcaldine is ideally located, with solar and wind resources, and the Barcaldine Renewable Energy Zone precinct will support jobs in regional Queensland,” he said. “Crucially, the establishment of BREZ provides an opportunity for the region to capture the economic benefit of this renewable energy resource and create employment in the region.”
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