A draft roadmap released by the Queensland government identifies 12 potential renewable energy zones (REZs) to be developed and connected to the grid in three phases by 2035 as the state continues its shift away from coal-fired power.
The Queensland government last year announced its Energy and Jobs Plan which includes renewable energy targets of 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035. The coordinated development of clean energy infrastructure in zones is seen as critical for the delivery of the large-scale wind, solar, pumped hydro and green hydrogen projects required to meet those clean energy targets.
“By coordinating the connection of new wind and solar, REZs can leverage economies of scale to efficiently connect more affordable renewable energy into our grid,” the state said. “This will help deliver the right mix of energy technologies, in the right locations at the right time.”
The 12 proposed renewable energy zones – a major increase on the initial three REZs announced by the state government in 2020 – are split into three regions with five in southern Queensland, four in central Queensland and three in the state’s north.
Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said concentrating the renewable energy rollout to 12 areas would help secure community and industry support for “the biggest economic transition project that Queensland has ever embarked upon.”
“It’s big in concept and shows how to deliver big when it comes to building a new energy infrastructure for the whole state and is also a signal to industry and private investors that we’re serious about renewable energy and partnerships with communities and project developers,” he said.
The indicative locations of the potential REZs, identified in consultation with state-owned network company Powerlink, have been selected based on network capacity, project pipeline and land use analysis.
The Queensland government said the preliminary locations “represent the REZ connection to the shared network, and as each specific REZ is declared for consultation and development, the locations will be further defined and shaped.”
The state said at least $6 million has been immediately allocated to undertake a strategic assessment of the three regions with the information to inform planning for individual REZ declarations.
De Brenni said new legislation would be introduced to establish the framework for declaring and developing the targeted REZs.
The draft 2023 Queensland Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap closes for public consultation on 22 September 2023.
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