Qld commits $4bn to ten year green energy roll-out

Brandon How

The Queensland government will spend $4 billion on support for energy transition and renewable infrastructure as part of a new ten-year energy and jobs plan that includes the world’s largest pumped hydro project and a new SuperGrid for renewables.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk launched the plan at her State of the State address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia on Wednesday.

The strategy aims to help decarbonise the state as well as promote economic opportunities for green manufacturing and the export of hydrogen. She said the plan is “not just nation leading. It is world leading and positions Queensland on the global stage”.

Coopers Gap wind farm in Jandowae, Queensland.

The Premier also announced that the state would increase its renewable generation target, from 50 per cent of the energy mix from renewable sources by 2030 to 70 per cent by 2032 and 80 per cent by 2035.

Estimates in the plan also claim that greenhouse gas emission from electricity would be 90 per cent lower than 2005 levels by 2035-36.

Of the $4 billion commitment, more than $270 million will go towards two pumped hydro projects, making it the jurisdiction with the largest pumped hydro capacity by 2035.

Overall, the plan is expected to unlock “22GW of new renewable capacity”, with the state to deliver most of the new generation capacity to “maintain majority ownership”, according to the Premier. To support this effort the Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund has been topped up by $2.5 billion, which was accrued through coal royalties, bringing its total value to $4.5 billion.

It is expected to leverage $62 billion of public and private investment in the energy system to spur an eight-fold increase in the state’s renewable capacity by 2035. The plan also estimates that 11.5GW of additional rooftop solar as well as 6GW of embedded batteries will be installed. The state’s energy needs will no longer be reliant on coal-fired generation in 2035 if the plan’s targets are met.

When the Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro project is complete in 2035 it will be the largest in the world with a capacity of 5GW of 24-hour storage, two and a half times bigger than Snowy Hydro. Stage one of the project could be complete by 2032.

The second pumped hydro project supported under the plan is at Borumba Dam. A design and cost analysis for the project began earlier this year with the project expected to deliver 2GW of 24-hour storage by 2030. Borumba Dam alone will have sufficient capacity to supply electricity to two million homes.

Together, the two projects could provide sufficient energy to power half of homes in the state, according to the Premier. She also said that the pumped hydro projects will require support from at least 21GW of renewable generation or “more than 150 new wind and solar farms”, according to the Premier. This is because three megawatts of energy are required to store one megawatt of energy through pumped hydro.

Following the completion of these projects, the pumped hydro will make up a bigger proportion of the Queensland energy mix than Europe, China, and the United States, the Premier added.

The 10-year plan also includes $500 million for the development of the state’s first hydrogen ready gas turbine, and grid and community batteries.

There is also $20 million to support development on future hydrogen hubs, $42 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and $11.6 million to grow local supply chains and support manufacturers.

The Queensland SuperGrid will extend 1500km across the state’s solar, wind, battery, and hydrogen generators, and open several new renewable energy zones. There is also $285 million dedicated to begin construction of the SuperGrid while state-owned transmission network operator Powerlink will spend $365 million on grid reinforcement in Central Queensland.

Coal-fired power stations will not be phased “continue to play a vital role in the energy system, with government reserving back-up capacity, repurposing critical infrastructure and reinvesting into these sites as clean energy hubs”. All state-owned coal-fired stations will be operating as clean energy hubs by 2035, with the transition to begin from 2027.

Premier Palaszczuk noted that the investments will help boost the local economy in addition to its decarbonising impact.

“This major investment will massively lift our competitiveness for global investment in the broader economy. It’s not just about supplying renewable energy but also about supplying affordable and secure energy for local manufacturing jobs,” the Premier said.

“Pumped hydro won’t just move water to power Queensland it provides reliable renewable power to move markets to Queensland to set Queensland on a pathway for growth, a pathway for more jobs in more industries across our regional centres. There is a long way to go but today marks the beginning.”

Modelling by multinational consultancy EY estimates the plan will create 100,000 new jobs by 2040. Based on this modelling, the state economy is expected to grow by an additional $25.7 billion through lower prices, green premiums, earlier access to renewables, and growth “in clean energy industries including metals processing, critical minerals, green hydrogen and battery manufacturing” according to the Premier.

An additional $200 million for the Regional Economic Future Fund will support the transition for regional communities where coal power stations are currently located. There is also $150 million for a Job Security Guarantee and $90 million for two new regional transmission and training hubs.

The guarantee will include a fund and an Energy Workers’ Charter to give coal-fired power station workers opportunities to continue in the energy sector or move into another career.

Wednesday’s announcement follows a string of other renewable technology announcements over the last week.

On Tuesday, the Government launched an online tool to view the uptake of rooftop solar in different postcodes. In total, 722,000 Queensland homes have solar which produces 3.5GW of capacity.

On Monday the Premier announced a $776 million investment, through the Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund,  to build Australia’s largest publicly owned wind farm in the South Burnett more than 200km northwest of Brisbane.

Last Friday, a memorandum of understanding was signed between a Queensland-based company and a South Korean consortium to develop the hydrogen supply chain potentially worth $20 billion.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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