Renewable energy projects in Queensland could generate more power than coal and gas combined if all proposed projects go ahead, a new report has found.
- A new report finds already proposed renewable projects in Queensland could generate more power than coal and gas combined
- The ACF is calling for more ambitious renewable targets in Queensland
- Academics say there are still challenges to overcome in the industry
The report commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation also found renewable energy projects are on track to provide a third of Queensland’s electricity by 2025.
Author Tristan Edis collated a database of all projects proposed for development across the country, including Queensland’s wind and solar farms, as well as other power sources under development such as hydro.
“Renewables represented less than five per cent of power supply over the prior decade, but since 2015 it’s going to rise from seven per cent to 35 per cent of Queensland power supply by 2025.”
He said to exploit its full potential the sunshine state needs to convert into an export industry.
“We shouldn’t be setting our sights just on producing power for our own needs,” Mr Edis said.
“We need to find a way to convert this renewable electricity into either hydrogen, which can be exported, or into setting up new metal smelters that can convert that electricity into metal and then export those metals overseas.”
Mr Edis said the renewables boom could open up to 9,000 new jobs for engineers, truck drivers, electricians, and mechanics.
“It could be a significant employer, and that would that would last a very long time,” he said.
Much of the growth expected in the next five years will be driven by two large projects — the Macintyre wind farm near Warwick and the Western Downs solar farm near Chinchilla — and by more households and businesses installing solar systems.
More ambitious targets needed
Australian Conservation Foundation climate and energy campaigner Jason Lyddieth said more transmission is a vital step and called for more ambitious renewables targets in Queensland.
“South Australia are going for 100 per cent, Tasmania wants to go for 200 per cent.
“If we don’t get going ourselves then we’ll find that we’re lagging behind other states while they’re getting into renewable energy.”
Mr Lyddieth also called for Queensland to mandate that Government-owned corporations Stanwell Corporation, CS Energy, and CleanCo invest more heavily in renewable energy.
The report found policies announced to date will only get Queensland to 38 per cent by 2030, falling short of its 50 per cent target by that date.
Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said supporting jobs in emerging industries like renewable energy is integral to the Government’s economic strategy for post-COVID-19 recovery.
“Renewables have grown under this Government from next to nothing to a projected 20 per cent by the end of this year,” Mr Lynham said.
“Our publicly-owned generator CleanCo will help drive this next phase by bringing on 1,000 megawatts of renewable generation by 2025.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government will continue to back our renewable energy revolution because it is helping cut power prices, cut emissions, and supporting jobs and economic recovery.”
Challenges for industry to overcome
University of Southern Queensland electro-mechanical engineering lecturer Andreas Helwig said there were still several challenges for the industry to overcome and warned electricity prices for consumers could rise.
“Australia has a unique ability, we have a lot more sunshine to work with than Europe does.
“It’s a question of how we engineer the system to actually keep the prices down [and] how we use or store the excess energy — which has costs associated with it as well.”
Mr Helwig said as an engineer it was an “exciting time” to be in renewables.
“We don’t want to end up with an unreliable [supply], or brownouts occurring during peak periods in mid-summer. These are all things we want to avoid.”