As part of a $1 billion booster shot to pull itself out of an economic slump, the Queensland government has commited $500 million to bring about the creation of three renewable energy zones in the state.
The Renewable Energy Fund will allow the Labor government, led by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, to take advantage of investment opportunities via its state-owned energy corporations “that represent both excellent value for the taxpayer and more jobs,” said Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick.
“That’s why we will invest $500 million in a Renewable Energy Fund that will mean our state-owned energy corporations can increase public ownership of commercial renewable projects and supporting infrastructure,” Dick said.
The state has set itself a target of 50% renewables by 2030. With only 10 years to go, it has a lot of work to do. Black coal supplies about 80% of demand in the state.
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Renewable Energy Fund would continue the pace of Queensland’s renewable revolution that had already seen 41 large-scale renewable energy projects commence operations, under construction or financially committed since 2015, representing about 6,500 jobs.
“The fund will complement our $145 million commitment to establish three renewable energy zones to foster jobs and growth in regional Queensland,” Dr Lynham said.
State-owned energy corporations include CleanCo, with a portfolio of hydro and pumped hydro assets and offtake agreements with solar and wind projects, DNSPs Powerlink and Energex and retailer Ergon Energy, among others.
Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said Queensland’s commitment to renewable energy shows it is serious about hitting its clean energy target.
“We have a big build ahead of us to reach that 2030 clean energy target, and it makes sense that we bring investment forward in the next few years to stimulate much-needed economic activity,” Thornton said.
Investment has slowed since the start of 2019, Thornton said, with only three large-scale projects financially committed in the state in the 18 months to June 2020. This compares with eight projects being financially committed during 2018 and 19 during 2017.
“Queensland has some of the best renewable energy resources in Australia and stand-out potential to become a clean energy powerhouse. We welcome the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to placing ‘a clean recovery’ at the centre of its strategy for economic recovery,” he said.