Media - Solar Citizens

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Technology road map means higher emissions for electricity sector

Solar Citizens has condemned the Federal Government’s technology road map, which was released overnight.

‘The government’s technology road map includes investment in emissions intensive gas fired power, keeping coal fired power stations open and investing in dangerous nuclear power,’ said National Director of Solar Citizens Ellen Roberts.

‘Ostensibly a plan to address Australia’s rising emissions, this is actually a road map to increased emissions, dangerous climate change and higher power prices.

Wind and solar have driven down wholesale electricity prices in the last few years. We must be urgently transitioning to renewable energy to clean up our energy system, avoid the worst impacts of dangerous climate change and take advantage of our world class wind and solar resources.

‘Federal energy policy uncertainty has caused a crash in renewable energy investment in Australia. This is most pronounced in Queensland, where the number of renewable projects under construction has crashed to almost zero. This technology road map will not provide the certainty that we need to be transitioning our energy system to renewables.

‘On the positive side, the road map recognises the importance in continuing to invest in the next generation of PV solar. Australia has led the world in solar PV research for decades, and per capita Australia has a higher number of solar households than anywhere in the world.

It is heartening to see solar PV included in the list of priority technologies. However overall the road map paints a grim and dirty picture of Australia’s future energy system.’

Solar Citizens represents the interests of millions of rooftop solar owners and all Australians wanting an urgent transition to clean energy.

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Federal Government Rushes to Boost Fossil Fuels over Cheaper Energy

Solar Citizens today condemns the Federal Government’s backing of a gas-fired economic recovery, saying the government is supporting expensive, out-of-date technology.

“While renewables are driving down the wholesale price of electricity, expensive gas has been one of the main factors pushing up power bills in recent years,” said Ellen Roberts Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“It’s almost beyond belief that the government is supporting polluting and expensive energy at a time when we have a real chance to diversify the economy and kick-start renewable export and manufacturing industries.

“This is the Federal Government pandering to the interests of the fossil fuel lobby.”

Just last week, Solar Citizens released data commissioned from Green Energy Markets, which showed that there are 108 large-scale renewable energy projects proposed across Queensland that would generate 51,000 construction jobs and $36 billion worth of investment.

“Here in Queensland we have a natural renewable energy advantage that we could utilise to produce cheap energy for industry,” said Ms Roberts.

“Just yesterday the State Government invested in the CopperString 2.0 project, which when built will allow more solar and wind farms to connect to the grid and provide cheap energy to North Queensland industry.

“This is the approach the Federal Government should be taking: investing in renewable infrastructure to lower bills, create regional jobs, and future-proof the economy.

“The price of gas is volatile, but renewables just keep getting cheaper and cheaper.”

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

CopperString 2.0 investment a win for North Queenslanders

19 May 2020: CopperString 2.0 investment a win for North Queenslanders

Solar Citizens today congratulates the Queensland Government for supporting the CopperString 2.0 project with $14.8 million.

The proposed transmission project will connect Mt Isa to the main electricity grid, unlocking some of the Sunshine State's enormous clean energy potential to power industry.

“The CopperString 2.0 project will allow new solar and wind projects to connect to Queensland’s grid to drive down power prices for industry and consumers,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“North Queensland has incredible solar and wind resources that can be utilised to provide cheap electricity for energy-intensive industries like minerals processing.

“Already the Sun Metals’ Townsville zinc refinery is making the most of Queensland’s natural renewable advantage to power their facility.

“By supporting more renewable investment and transmission infrastructure, we can see more onshore minerals processing and manufacturing.”

Research commissioned by Solar Citizens recently found that if all the proposed large-scale renewable energy projects in Queensland went ahead it would create over 51,000 construction jobs and $36 billion worth of investment.

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Renewable Jobs Bonanza Could Help Struggling Queensland Economy

12 May 2020: Renewable Jobs Bonanza Could Help Struggling Queensland Economy. 

More than 51,000 construction jobs could be created in Queensland if the 108 large-scale renewable energy projects in the development pipeline went ahead, a new analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens has found.

The analysis by Green Energy Markets found the proposed projects, worth $36 billion to the Queensland economy, would generate enough electricity yearly to cover 92 per cent of Queensland’s electricity usage and provide exciting new employment opportunities for regional Queenslanders.

These job and investment figures come after Queensland Government modelling showed the state economy could face a $10 billion hit from coronavirus.

“These clean energy projects would present ongoing job opportunities for regional Queenslanders and could play a key role in boosting the struggling economy,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“But new renewable projects are facing mountains of hurdles and developers are saying to us, ‘we’re looking down south,’ because the incentives are just not here to bring the projects to Queensland.”

It is understood that a large proportion of the potential 21GW of utility renewable capacity waiting in Queensland's development pipeline is being held up by energy policy uncertainty and the need for new transmission infrastructure.

“Energy policy uncertainty, transmission issues and grid restraints are killing renewable investment in Queensland, and therefore, killing the potential for new renewable jobs,” said Ms Roberts. “The State Government needs to support 1-2GW of new renewable energy generation each year for the next 5 years to maintain a strong jobs and investment pipeline for Queenslanders.”

“We’d also like to see the Government fast-track key transmission projects that will unlock more clean energy potential across the state.”

“The projects in the pipeline now could be just the beginning. Queensland can have a bright economic future using cheap renewable energy resources to power advanced manufacturing and create a new export industry.”

Grid and market obstacles saw the number of new large-scale renewable projects reaching financial close crash from over 1,400MW in 2017 to less than 20MW last year.

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

 

QLD Gov Supports Mega Solar Farm

Solar Citizens congratulates the Queensland Government on the announcement today of their support for the Neoen’s solar farm near Chinchilla in the Western Downs.

"We’re heartened to see movement from the Queensland Government on clean energy, particularly because this will bring much-need jobs and investment to regional Queensland while the economy is struggling," said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens' National Director. 

"The Queensland Government will need to make many more announcements like this to ensure that we’re on track to meet the 50% renewable energy target by 2030, and to maintain a strong pipeline of construction jobs."

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency also announced today that it would give nearly half a million dollars to the state-owned transmission operator Powerlink to look at grid issues in North Queensland that have prevented solar farms operating at full capacity.

"In the last two months the Queensland Government has supported two projects in the Darling Downs, where transmission is relatively strong. It’s now time to make sure that we plan to upgrade transmission infrastructure across the State, including in North Queensland so that all Queenslanders can benefit from the lower power prices and new jobs that renewables bring," said Ms Roberts.

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Media contacts: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Poll: Queenslanders Support Renewable Energy Over Coal

29 April 2020 Poll: Queenslanders Support Renewable Energy Over Coal

A new poll of more than 1000 Queenslanders has found overwhelming support for the State to invest in renewable energy. 

The QDOS Research poll, commissioned by Solar Citizens, found that 78 per cent of respondents would be more likely to support the Queensland Government spending on renewable energy generation than on new coal-fired power, and 62 per cent of people agree the Government should develop a plan to gradually transition and generate all electricity from clean sources like solar and wind.

Climate Change was a major concern, with 70 per cent of those polled saying they were concerned about climate change in Queensland. 

“These results show that Queenslanders are concerned about the threat of climate change and support more government investment in clean energy solutions. The Government should listen to these concerns and pave the way for more renewable energy jobs and investment,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

These polling results come as state and federal politicians debate the need and viability of a new coal-fired power station in North Queensland. 

The Federal Government has provided $4 million for a feasibility study into a new coal-fired power station in Collinsville, despite the Queensland Energy Minister, Anthony Lynham, expressing deep concern over the project. 

“Building a new coal-fired power station in Queensland would require extensive government subsidies and it’s clear that the majority of Queenslanders don’t support the idea,” Ms Roberts said.

“Queensland Opposition Leader, Deb Frecklington, is staying silent on the issue, but 65 per cent of LNP voters polled said they support spending on renewable energy ahead of coal-fired power.”

Further results showed that 22 per cent of people surveyed were unsure who they’d vote for when Queensland heads to the polls in October. A majority of those who were unsure of their voting intention rated a negative association with coal-fired power and coal mining.

“Queenslanders clearly support more investment in clean energy projects and if governments take action now it will boost the struggling economy,” said Ms Roberts. 

“Renewables can unlock the energy trifecta for Queenslanders: lower bills, less pollution and more regional employment.

“We can utilise our impressive solar and wind resources to produce an abundance of cheap electricity and help revive Australian manufacturing.”

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Media contacts: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694


Overview of polling results

An online survey of a random selection of n=1,045 Queensland residents was conducted. The survey was conducted between 20-23 March, 2020. Of those surveyed, 49% were male and 51% were female. 

  • When asked who they intend to vote for in the Queensland state election, 29 per cent said the LNP, 27 per cent Labor, 9 per cent the Greens, 7 per cent One Nation, 1 per cent Bob Katter’s Australia party, 4 per cent another party or independent, and 22 per cent said they were unsure. 

  • 78 per cent of respondents said they would be more likely to support using public funds to ‘build more renewable energy generation like wind and solar’ over building ‘more coal fired power stations’ (22 per cent).

  • 62 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that ‘the Queensland government should develop a plan to gradually move away from polluting energy and generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar’.

  • Only 18 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that burning coal causes climate change. 

  • 70 per cent of respondents rated their concern of climate change between 6-10 on a scale where 0 is not concerned at all and 10 is extremely concerned.

  • 66 per cent of respondents rated Labor as the first or second best party at supporting renewable energy, whereas only 47 per cent rated the LNP in the same way. 

Solar Stimulus a Winner for All

24 April 2020: Solar Stimulus a Winner for All

News that the NSW Government is making it simpler for rooftop solar owners to install larger systems is today welcomed by Solar Citizens. The community group is calling on NSW and other state governments to further invest in solar stimulus measures. 

“Making it easier for NSW residents to expand their solar systems is a good step to stimulate the small-scale solar industry, while helping households slash their bills even further,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“While more people are working from home and using electricity during the day, rooftop solar has an important role to play to keep electricity bills manageable.

“Investing in further measures to make solar and storage accessible to more households can offer real bang for buck for state governments: lowering power bills, slashing pollution and keeping people in work.”

Currently the small-scale solar industry employs 13,000 people across the country, according to ABS data released last month. 

“It’s harder for renters and low-income households to install rooftop solar and take control of their power bills, so this is a real opportunity for governments to expand programs that boost installations on rental properties and public housing,” said Ms Roberts. 

“There’s also no better time to make strategic investments in rolling out solar and storage on schools and government buildings.”

An 2017 report commissioned by Solar Citizens found that NSW’s solar owners reduced the state’s wholesale electricity price by up to $3.3 billion over one year, largely by reducing peak demand.

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Media contact:
Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens' National Director 0408583694

Government’s ARENA funding announcement good start but falls short

8th March 2020: Government’s ARENA funding announcement good start but falls short

Solar Citizens welcomes this morning’s announcement that the Australian Government will provide $480 000 towards ARENA to fund clean energy entrepreneurs, but says this falls well short of the funding needed to maintain ARENA beyond September this year.

ARENA will run out of funding for new projects within the year, after the Government cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the agency’s budget in 2016.

‘ARENA has delivered some of the world’s most efficient and widely-used clean energy innovations, but there’s still more to be done to ensure Australia doesn’t fall behind,’ said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

‘The Federal Government still has no real plan to fund ARENA beyond 2020 and we risk losing the expertise and innovation that has led to cheaper and more accessible solar for households and communities.’

‘This is a good start but without meaningful long-term investment in ARENA, Australia will lose its place at the forefront of renewable innovation.’


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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

About Solar Citizens: Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation working to protect and grow renewable energy in Australia. We represent the millions of Australians that have rooftop solar, and all Australians that support the transition to clean renewable energy.

Solar Citizens Celebrates Wind Jobs Bonanza

26 March 2020: Solar Citizens Celebrates Wind Jobs Bonanza

Solar Citizens congratulates the Queensland Government on the announcement that the
publicly-owned generator CleanCo will build a new wind farm near Warwick.

The announcement comes as the Government also awards the long-awaited 400MW reverse auction to ACCIONA for wind generation at the same MacIntyre Precinct. 

“It’s a smart move by the Queensland Government to roll out renewable energy infrastructure announcements now, so that Queenslanders reap the job and investment benefits in the months and years to come,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“Right now a lot of families are doing it tough and more clean, renewable energy projects will help drive down power prices.”

The wind farm precinct will create 400 jobs and enough clean energy to power 700,000 homes. 

“This is a great first step, but we need to see many more announcements like this if Queensland is to achieve it’s 50% by 2030 renewable energy target,” said Mrs Roberts. 

“As well as supporting more large-scale clean energy projects, the Government should be prioritising more rooftop solar on public housing, as well as for low-income households and renters, so that power prices are driven down during this difficult time and for many years to come.”

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

About Solar Citizens: Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation working to protect and grow renewable energy in Australia. We represent the millions of Australians that have rooftop solar, and all Australians that support the transition to clean renewable energy.

Taylor's technology road map won't fix clean energy investment crash

‘Today’s announcement from Angus Taylor on the technology roadmap should be of concern to everyone who wants to see a speedier transition to clean energy,’ said Ellen Roberts, National Director of Solar Citizens.

‘While Taylor is right to highlight how cheap wind and solar are as sources of generation we need policy settings at Federal level that enable the clean energy sector to continue to grow. The Renewable Energy Target will expire this year, with no policy to replace it.’

‘The Morrison Government’s lack of leadership on clean energy is causing investment in the renewable energy sector to crash. After a record construction boom in the last two years, new renewable energy projects under construction in Queensland this year will crash to zero this year.’

‘Policy certainty means investment certainty, which creates jobs and brings down emissions. Time for the Morrison government to get on with the job. They need to restore funding to ARENA in this years budget and reintroduce targets for renewable energy.’

‘Taylor has said he will not set targets for reducing emissions or increasing the amount of renewable energy in our grid. However it was Howard’s Renewable Energy Target has incentivised new renewable energy investment.’

‘Most concerning is the proposed investment into research in carbon capture and storage. It is not yet clear whether this will be used for fossil fuel projects. Millions of dollars have been wasted on funding research into carbon capture and storage for coal fired power stations, for no results. Let's not see money wasted in this way.’

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For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694