Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

ARENA Funding Announcement a Mixed Bag

Solar Citizens today welcomes the Federal Government's announcement for $1.4 billion over 10 years for ARENA, but condemns the mandate change that will allow the agency to fund fossil fuels.

"We welcome Morrison’s announcement of significant additional funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. However allowing ARENA to invest in carbon capture and storage is a waste of public funds and will undermine ARENA’s mission," said Solar Citizens' National Director, Ellen Roberts. 

"There is urgent and important work to do in adapting Australia’s energy grid to ensure we can rapidly transition to 100% clean energy, and ARENA is the agency that can lead on this work."

"Billions of dollars have been poured into carbon capture and storage research to placate the fossil fuel industry and the results have been dismal. It’s time to move on from this failed project and focus on bringing down energy prices and emissions - only possible with clean renewable energy."

"Today’s announcement to allow ARENA to invest in fossil fuel technologies fits with Morrison’s commitment to locking Australia into expensive, polluting gas. However, Australia's manufacturing industry is best served by investment in a transition to the cheapest forms of fuel: wind and solar."

Ellen Roberts can be contacted on 0408 583 694.

Morrison's gas fired power bad for energy prices

Ellen Roberts, National Director of Solar Citizens said, 'Scott Morrison’s pledge of public money for gas fired power for the Hunter Valley will lock the region in to higher power prices.'

'Towns currently dependent on gas generation, like Mount Isa in Western Queensland are now turning to cheap renewable energy to power existing heavy industry. Solar, wind and storage are much cheaper than expensive polluting gas.'

'By pushing gas fired power, Morrison is locking in high power prices for the Hunter Valley - the last thing the region needs.'

'Energy Minister Angus Taylor is trying to pass legislation through Parliament that would force the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to hand out taxpayers funds to dirty polluting gas, even where those projects lose money. '

'It's time to stop this madness and invest in the clean energy future that Australians want,' said Ms Roberts.
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For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

12,000 Queensland jobs at risk if LNP ditches QRET

8 September 2020: 12,000 Queensland jobs at risk if LNP ditches QRET

A new report by community group Solar Citizens has found that the Queensland LNP’s policy position to ditch the state’s 50% renewable energy by 2030 target could delay close to 12,300 renewable construction jobs as well as 750 ongoing jobs. 

It is the current party position that the Queensland Liberal National Party will not keep the State’s Renewable Energy Target if they are elected in the October Queensland election. 

“If the Queensland LNP follow through with their plans to ditch the QRET it will be a win for big, polluting energy companies and a loss for regional employment,” said Solar Citizens’ Queensland Campaigner, Stephanie Gray.

“Renewables are the energy trifecta for Queenslanders: they lower power bills, drive down pollution and create local employment in the regions.

“Cheap, clean energy could be Queensland’s competitive advantage and attract new job-rich manufacturing industries to our shores. It’s disappointing that the LNP will drag us backwards instead of future-proofing our economy.”

Modelling from the Australian Energy Market Operator shows that without a Renewable Energy Target, Queensland could have 1,950MW less wind and 2,950MW less large-scale solar by 2030. The modelling suggests that this will delay the country’s transition and specifically delay renewable jobs around Central Queensland and the Darling Downs.

“The clean energy that we’ll lose if they scrap the target would be enough to power roughly 1.5 million Queensland homes,” said Ms Gray. 

“Queenslanders are quiet clean energy achievers. We’ve got small businesses manufacturing battery storage and developing cutting-edge clean technology here in Brisbane, and more than 700,000 solar homes and businesses across the state.

“The Queensland LNP should be supporting more local clean energy jobs and innovation. Not pandering to big fossil fuel companies.”

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Contact: Stephanie 0425543006
Full analysis here.

Solar Citizens Welcomes $500m for Publicly Owned Clean Energy in Queensland

Solar Citizens has today welcomed the announcement by the Queensland Government to support the building of publicly owned renewable energy generation through a $500 million Renewable Energy Fund.

"This is great news – it will mean thousands of regional jobs, and lower power prices for all Queenslanders," said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens' National Director. 

"Queenslanders want to see electricity assets stay in public hands. If our electricity assets stay in public hands it means that all profits can be used for schools, hospitals and addressing climate change. It's great to see wind and solar funding schools and hospitals for Queenslanders.

"The Renewable Energy Fund will help Queensland power the next generation of manufacturing with clean, cheap renewable energy. 

"We can be making batteries and electric buses and green steel right here in Queensland if we invest in clean energy generation." 
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For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

Clarke Creek Wind Farm Agreement Good for Jobs and Power Prices in Queensland

Solar Citizens has today welcomed an agreement between Goldwind and Stanwell Corporation for the supply of power from Goldwind’s Clarke Creek wind farm in the north of Rockhampton.

"It’s great to see Stanwell Corporation supporting the development of clean cheap energy in Queensland. The Clarke Creek wind farm will provide much-needed jobs and investment for both Rockhampton and Mackay, and will assist with driving down power prices for Queenslanders," said Solar Citizens' National Director, Ellen Roberts.

"Construction is due to begin on the Clarke Creek project next year, contributing to Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

"In addition to supporting private projects, Queensland’s government-owned generators, Stanwell and CS Energy are champing at the bit to be building and owning their own renewable energy."
Both Stanwell and CS Energy own coal-fired power stations in Queensland.

"It’s time for the State Government to allow them to build publicly-owned renewables, particularly as the latest data shows the Sunshine State is not on track to achieve it’s 50% by 2030 renewable energy target," said Ms Roberts.
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For comment please call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

Queensland Government Announces First Step Towards 13,400 Ongoing Clean Energy Jobs

20 August 2020: Queensland Government Announces First Step Towards 13,400 Ongoing Clean Energy Jobs

Solar Citizens today congratulates the Queensland Government on their announcement to invest $145 million to develop Renewable Energy Zones in North and Central Queensland, as well as the South West.

“Investments like this set Queensland up to realise our incredible solar and wind potential and become a clean energy superpower,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“Turbocharging Queensland’s clean energy industry will flood the market with cheaper energy and make it more competitive to kick-start new minerals processing and manufacturing industries.

“We have some of the world’s best solar resources, and great wind too. We can be using these resources to power steel manufacturing, renewable hydrogen production and battery manufacturing facilities.

“Queensland’s large-scale clean energy industry has been hamstrung by a need for more transmission infrastructure, so this announcement is just what the doctor ordered.”

Solar Citizens says that if all of the Renewable Energy Zones proposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator across Queensland were developed to their full potential it would create 13,400 ongoing clean energy jobs as well as 21,000 construction jobs every year for ten years.

Developing Renewable Energy Zones to their maximum potential would power:

  • 14,230 construction jobs every year for ten years in the north of Queensland if Far North Queensland, North Queensland Clean Energy Hub, North Queensland, Barcaldine and Isaac Renewable Energy Zones were developed.
  • 3,533 construction jobs every year for ten years in Central Queensland if Fitzroy and Wide Bay were developed. 
  • 3,255 construction jobs every year for ten years in the Darling Downs if it was developed. 

“Making the most of our renewable energy potential would power tens of thousands of construction jobs across regional Queensland and unlock billions worth of investment,” said Ms Roberts.

“Today we’ve seen the Queensland Government make a smart investment to grow a thriving clean energy industry. Now it’s time for the Federal Government to come to the table like they’ve done in NSW to build Renewable Energy Zones.”

Queensland Not on Track to Reach 50 per cent Renewables, Despite Announcements

19 August 2020: Queensland Not on Track to Reach 50 per cent Renewables, Despite Announcements

New analysis from Green Energy Markets has found that Queensland is only on track to meet 37.5 per cent renewable electricity by 2030, falling well short of the State Government’s 50 per cent goal.

“Energy policy uncertainty and the dire need for more transmission infrastructure is driving away potential investors,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“The clean energy projects proposed across Queensland would create thousands of construction jobs and billions worth of investment, but Queenslanders won’t see a slice of this unless the State Government releases a plan for reaching 50 per cent renewables and beyond.”

While the Queensland Government is falling behind on their 50 per cent commitment, the State LNP Opposition has indicated that they won’t support a renewable energy target if elected in October. 

“If the Queensland LNP abolishes the state’s renewable energy target, it’ll send a message to renewable investors that Queensland is closed for business,” said Ms Roberts. 

“Halting renewable energy investment will stop electricity bills from dropping further and hurt regional communities that stand to gain from new large-scale projects.”

The new Green Energy Markets report highlights that a surge in renewable energy, particularly solar, has driven down the wholesale price of electricity during the daytime from $67 in 2016 to just $12 last May. 

“Manufacturers in the North of Queensland are complaining about high electricity prices, caused by a reliance on expensive gas plants. To support regional manufacturing we need to urgently scale up renewable generation and transmission,” said Ms Roberts.

“Queensland’s competitive advantage should be an abundance of cheap renewable energy. More cheap renewables can revive local manufacturing and pave the way for new industries, like green steel production.”

A recent report from the Grattan Institute found if Australia gained just 6.5% of the global steel market it would create 25,000 ongoing manufacturing jobs in Queensland and NSW, and generate $65 billion in annual export revenue.

“The boom in renewable energy construction activity is turning to a bust just at the wrong time for the Queensland economy,” said Tristan Edis from Green Energy Markets. 

“Over 2019 there was not a single utility-scale solar or wind farm committed to construction and those committed to construction over 2016 to 2018 are now largely complete.”

To the credit of the State Government and the Sunshine State’s 700,000 solar homes and businesses, Queensland has gone from consuming just 7 per cent renewable electricity in 2016 to a projected 23 per cent by 2021. 

“In the last five years Queensland has proven the doubters wrong who said renewable energy was too expensive and too insignificant to make a difference,” said Mr Edis.


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Media contact: Ellen 0408 583 694
Full analysis here.

Queensland LNP MP Calls for More Privately-owned Electricity Generation

30 July 2020: Queensland LNP MP Calls for More Privately-owned Electricity Generation

A week after Queensland’s Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart said the state LNP had no intention of investing in new coal generation in Queensland, MP Dale Last has come out clarifying that they do support more private generation, including new coal.

Mr Last told the Daily Mercury, “The LNP will facilitate private sector investment in new electricity generation in Queensland, including coal-fired power stations by streamlining the approval process.”

“New generators should be funded, built, owned and operated by bodies other than the state government to boost competition and lower prices,” he said.

Community group Solar Citizens has called out the state opposition for supporting more private and expensive coal generation.

“Queenslanders have shown time and time again that we don’t want private companies to control the majority of our electricity assets, and yet here we are again,” said Solar Citizens’ National Director Ellen Roberts.

“Now is the moment to invest in more publicly-owned renewable energy, so we can power the Sunshine State with cheaper energy that’s owned by Queenslanders.

“A new coal-fired power station will not get off the ground without substantial government subsidies. The proposed Collinsville coal generator is very unlikely to go ahead, and saying otherwise is lying to Queenslanders.”

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Media contact: Ellen 0408 583 694

Solar Citizens calls on AEMC to block imposition of export fees

Solar Citizens, a national organisation advocating for rooftop solar owners, has expressed dismay at proposals under consideration by the Australian Energy Market Commission that would see solar owners charged for providing power to the grid.

Currently, the Australian Energy Rules prevent people generating power from being charged to access the network. St Vincent’s and the South Australian Power Network are proposing a change to the rules that would allow network operators to impose charges on solar households for exporting to the grid, claiming that households without solar are subsidising those with panels. 

However, research by the Victoria Energy Policy Centre finds that rooftop solar panels bring down power prices for all energy consumers. The VEPC analysed the bills of 7,200 Victorian homes with rooftop solar and found that even the relatively low penetration of rooftop solar in that State brought prices down by $6.4/MWh, 8% off the wholesale price of electricity in 2019.

‘Rooftop solar benefits all energy consumers by providing cheap power to the grid and bringing down prices for all consumers. We should be encouraging more people to get solar, not imposing greater financial costs on them,’ said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts.

‘Big coal and gas generators aren’t charged for exporting their power to the grid, so why should we be slugging Australian families with panels on their roofs who are providing cheap power to their neighbours?'

‘Consumer groups concerned about equity and welfare should be doing all they can to promote the uptake of rooftop solar, not seeking to undermine it. 

‘The AEMC is considering three rule changes at once, and there’s plenty to support in the proposal from Total Environment Centre and Australian Council of Social Services. But any blanket imposition of fees on solar households will work to benefit the big coal and gas generators who will sell more power if solar exports are no longer viable.’

ARENA Board Lapse is Bad News for Renewables

Solar Citizens has expressed concern that the terms of the board of directors of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will expire this Friday with no plan to replace them.

‘ARENA oversees millions of dollars of vital government funded energy projects, and needs an experienced board to make informed and independent investment decisions,’ said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts.

‘It’s very unfortunate that the Federal government is allowing the terms of the current board to expire, with no arrangements in place to ensure the proper functioning of the organisation.’

‘We’re calling for the terms of the current board members to be extended, and ARENA to be fully refunded to allow it to continue its vital work in ensuring Australia’s smooth and timely energy transition.’

ARENA is also due to run out of funding for new projects this year.

The lapsing of the board terms comes as the Federal Government is actively considering expanding ARENA’s investment mandate to allow it to invest in non-renewable energy projects, such as carbon capture and storage.

‘This would open the door to funding gas and coal projects that are packaged up with questionable “low emissions” technologies, such as disproven carbon capture and storage, to pass them off as clean energy projects.’

‘ARENA and the CEFC are the last meaningful clean energy policies in Australia, and key to the Government’s strategy to invest in clean energy technology and lower emissions. The mandate change could see wind and solar lose out, as renewables will now need to compete with a broader range of technologies for grant funding.’

Solar Citizens advocates for the rights of the millions of Australians with rooftop solar, and anyone who wants to see an urgent transition to 100% renewable energy.

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Ellen Roberts can be contacted for comment on 0408 583 694

Latest details on the ARENA board can be found in this Renew Economy article: https://reneweconomy.com.au/crunch-time-for-clean-energy-funding-as-arena-board-deadline-looms-19863/