2,600 NQ Jobs Stalled by Grid Needs
20 February 2023: 2,600 NQ Jobs Stalled by Grid Needs
Three major renewable energy projects touted for North West Queensland cannot proceed until major grid upgrades take place, stalling 2,600 clean energy jobs and 2,800 MW of new wind generation.
According to campaigning organisation Solar Citizens, the three major wind projects, Mount James, Prairie and Wongalee wind farms, will require the Townsville to Hughenden transmission upgrade to proceed – a grid project not slated until 2035 in Queensland's Energy and Jobs Plan.
“There’s a lot of excitement, and rightly so, about North West Queensland’s clean energy potential. The region around Hughenden has some of the country’s best co-located solar and wind resources, but currently the State Government’s timeline for unlocking this potential is still more than a decade away,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“What’s unique about the region is that it gets more than 300 days a year of sunshine and a wind resource that tends to blow at night, providing around the clock affordable energy.”
The proposed Renewable Energy Zone in North West Queensland, called the ‘North Queensland Clean Energy Hub’ by the Australian Energy Market Operator, is planned to be one of the last to be developed in the State. This is despite the zone having a staggering 26,600 MW of potential – more than the entire electricity generation currently operating in Queensland.
“North Queensland could be a key powerhouse for the whole state. That’s why it’s so disappointing that the vital grid investment needed to unlock the North's potential, including massive employment and economic potential, is the last grid project planned in Queensland’s Energy and Jobs Plan,” said Ms Gray.
“The State Government’s recent announcement of a $75 million critical mineral processing facility follows several private proposals to produce renewable hydrogen and battery materials locally. But if the region is going to become a hub for renewable hydrogen and clean manufacturing then we need to be connected to abundant cheap and clean energy.
“We’d like to see the Queensland Government be visionary about turning North Queensland into a hub for clean industry and manufacturing. The full potential of the north won’t be unlocked until they bring forward the build of this key grid infrastructure.
“It’s also imperative that existing industry and mining in Mount Isa can access affordable renewable energy to stay globally competitive. Right now they are relying on gas generation and facing crippling electricity prices. That’s why transmission projects, like CopperString, will be vital to underpin long-term economic prosperity right across the North.”
A recent report by Solar Citizens and the Queensland Conservation Council found that large-scale solar, wind and storage projects across the Sunshine State brought wholesale power costs down by $25/MWh in 2022, equivalent to nearly $100 per household. The groups say that further renewable energy investment would have brought costs down by more than $500 per household.
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425 543 006