Solar’s heavy lifting is Queensland’s ray of hope to hit transition target

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Analysis from the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) shows renewable generation output must increase by 4-5% annually if Queensland is to achieve its energy transition target, with large-scale solar farms, rooftop PV and under 30 MW small-scale solar networks expected to do most of the work.

The QCC, in its State of Queensland’s Energy Transition report, said the state is well positioned to achieve its renewable energy backed by storage objective.

The report, which maps the projected renewable energy construction pipeline over the next three years, shows that there is 18 GW of renewable projects actively in development in Queensland. The QCC said if all these projects are built, the installed capacity would reach more than 25 GW, aligning with the goals of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

QCC spokeswoman Stephanie Gray said the pipeline of projects indicates the scale of opportunity that government and privately owned corporations are seeing in the energy transition in Queensland.

“We finally have a clear plan for phasing out coal and replacing it with renewable energy backed by storage,” she said.

“Just in the last year, the percentage of renewable energy contributing to Queensland’s electricity mix has grown by 5% to exceed 25%. We’re now at a point where our existing solar and wind farms are keeping the lights on as our ageing coal and gas-fired power stations frequently have unplanned outages.”

Installed-capacity-of-renewable-energy-in-Queensland-by-type.

Image: Queensland Conservation Council

The QCC said that in 2022-23, 25.5% of Queensland’s energy came from renewable sources. This continues a rapid increase in renewable energy, which has increased fourfold over the past five years.

Rooftop and small-scale (under 30 MW) solar is the largest renewable generator in the state, reaching nearly 6 GW in 2023. There are also 40 large-scale solar farms and three large-scale batteries connected to the grid, along with six large-scale wind farms and 570 MW of pumped hydro.

In addition to the existing assets, the QCC said there are 13 new renewable energy projects likely to be commissioned in Queensland before the end of 2026, including the 40 MW Kingaroy Solar Farm currently being constructed in the South Burnett region and expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

The report also highlights the 101 MW Aramara and 120 MW Munna Creek solar farms being developed on the Fraser Coast.

Projects in the pipeline likely to proceed.

Image: Queensland Conservation Council

The council said there are also a number of large-scale solar projects that are considered “likely to proceed” include the 380 MW Aldoga Solar Farm planned for central Queensland and the 175 MW Dulacca (formerly Ardandra ) Solar Farm planned for the Western Downs region.

In addition to the 850 MW of large-scale solar under construction, committed, or likely to proceed, there is 1.6 GW of wind and 1.3 GW/4 GWh of storage in big batteries and Kidston pumped hydro under construction in Queensland.

The QCC said there is an additional 2.7 GW of wind and solar that is either anticipated or at advanced stages of planning, which developers are aiming to build by 2026.

The release of the State of Queensland’s Energy Transition report comes as the Queensland government is seeking to legislate its renewable energy targets of 50% by 2030, 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035.

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