Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

Queensland State-Owned Coal Generator Looks to Renewables

Solar Citizens today congratulates Queensland’s state-owned generator Stanwell for moving quickly to identify high quality renewable energy projects that could be added to their portfolio. 

Stanwell Corporation is undertaking an expression of interest process, following the State Government’s allocation of $500 million to the Renewable Energy Fund for more publicly-owned clean energy generation. 

“For decades Queenslanders have voted to keep the majority of the electricity system in public hands, but so far it has mainly been the private sector that has seized the opportunities to develop and operate new solar, wind and storage plants,” said Solar Citizens’ National Director Ellen Roberts.

“Labor’s $500 million Renewable Energy Fund was a very welcome first step, however we’ll need to see a lot more investment in publicly-owned solar, wind and storage projects as coal assets edge closer to retirement.

“We’ve just recently seen the state’s coal and gas assets decrease their value by a whopping $1 billion as more cheap solar and wind energy comes online. It’s likely that they’re heading for early retirement. 

“The state-owned generators need to act fast to diversify their revenue to continue to provide returns for Queenslanders. 

“Investing in more publicly-owned clean energy generation will deliver long-term rewards for all Queenslanders, as the profits go back to funding vital services like schools and hospitals.” 

Government's EV Strategy Still Has One Foot on the Brake

5th February, 2021: Government’s EV Strategy Still Has One Foot on the Brake

The Morrison Government’s new EV strategy will leave Australia in the dust without fuel emissions standards and an EV target, says community group Solar Citizens. 

“Our transport emissions are growing rapidly, and this strategy is nowhere near enough to keep them in check,” said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts.

“Other countries are charging ahead, but at this pace only 26% of new cars will be EVs by 2030. We need it to be at least 75%, preferably higher. Other countries have effectively used fuel emissions standards to drive EV uptake.” 

“Electric vehicles are the future, they can run on clean solar and wind energy and are cheaper to run and maintain. Cleaner air is better for our health, climate and hip pocket.”

“Switching business fleet vehicles to EVs is a start, but without fuel emissions standards and an ambitious EV target, there’s still a long road to go.” 

"Australians love their rooftop solar, which is a great energy source for electric vehicles." 

[ENDS]

Queensland’s Coal and Gas Plant Profitability Plummets

February 4 2021: Queensland’s coal and gas plant profitability plummets 

Findings of a new report released today from the Queensland Audit Office demonstrate why the Queensland Government urgently needs to plan for the transition of the energy system, with profits from state-owned energy companies plummeting $1.5 billion in 2019-20.  

Off the back of the results, community group Solar Citizens say the Queensland Government needs to plan for early coal retirement as the influx of cheaper renewable energy means a decline in coal profits is inevitable.

“Coal stations aren’t very flexible, so when Queensland’s hundreds of thousands of solar rooftops are generating cheap energy during the day, they can lose a lot of money,” said Solar Citizens’ Queensland Campaigner, Stephanie Gray. 

“Solar and wind projects are the cheapest form of new energy. The transition is here and it’s now being driven by price.

“It’s absurd that the Queensland Government is still expecting coal plants that are bleeding money to run until the end of their technical lives. Taxpayers will be funding polluting coal stations to stay online decades after they’re profitable. 

“It’s in the best interest of Queenslanders if the state and federal governments plan for a rapid transition to clean energy. They need to be upfront with the community and provide certainty for workers who will be affected by inevitable generator closures."

Key report findings:

  •  In 2019–20, the energy entities recorded a combined profit of $204 million. This was a decrease of $1.5 billion (88 per cent) from the previous year. This profit reduction was largely due to the generators (CleanCo, CS Energy and Stanwell), because of lower electricity prices. 

  • Due to coal and gas generators being able to recover less than their current value, generators wrote down (decreased) the value of their power stations as follows: 

    • Stanwell: $720 million (19 per cent of total assets)

    • CS Energy: $353 million (15 per cent of total assets) 

  • Queensland’s wholesale electricity price fell on average by $27 per megawatt hour (33 per cent) compared to 2018–19. This is largely due to more cheap solar and wind energy coming online. 


Full report here.

Bowen Backs Clean Energy Funds

Solar Citizens welcomes this morning’s news that Shadow Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen will continue to back Labor’s opposition to the Morrison Government’s attack on clean energy funds. 

“The Government is trying to use the Grid Reliability Fund Bill to undermine the independence of  the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and use it to bankroll their disastrous gas-led recovery,” said Ellen Roberts from Solar Citizens. 

“Gas is not a low emissions technology and investment in new gas isn’t necessary for emissions reduction or the transition to clean energy.” 

“We support additional funding for the CEFC and investment in grid reliability and security, but not at the cost of turning the CEFC into a fossil fuel slush fund.”

“The CEFC, along with ARENA, have an unbeaten track record in supporting the growth of renewables, and are now the last meaningful federal clean energy policies in Australia. If the Government is serious about investing in clean energy technology, they’ll stop this backwards attempt to cling to gas and slow down the energy transition.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Prime Minister Backs Renewables While Talking Up Coal

The Morrison Government’s announcement of $11 million for CopperString 2.0 has been welcomed today by community group Solar Citizens, as the proposed transmission project will mean cheap solar and wind energy can power new industry Queensland’s North West.

But the community group says the Prime Minister is misleading Queenslanders on the potential for new coal generation.

"It’s wonderful to see the Morrison Government investing in key infrastructure that will allow more solar and wind projects to come online and provide cheaper energy to Queensland’s industry,” said Solar Citizens Energy Strategist, Stephanie Gray.

"But while the government is backing cheap renewable energy for industry, the Prime Minister is still talking about a new coal generator that just doesn’t stack up.

"There’s a reason that no new coal fired power stations have been built in Australia in the last ten years. Solar and wind are the cheapest source of new electricity and that’s where investors are putting their money.

"Prime Minister Morrison is misleading regional Queenslanders if he says a new coal-fired station will be built in Collinsville. 

"New coal power is simply too expensive and doesn’t fit into the modern grid. Energy experts will tell you it's a fairytale.

"Queensland’s coal station workers have played a vital role in powering Queensland and the nation. It’s time for the federal government to be honest and have a real conversation with the community, so that transitioning workers have certainty and can make the most of the exciting clean energy opportunities that are knocking on Queensland’s door.

"Our latest report found that if governments took credible action on climate change it could create an extra 22,000 job years in Queensland’s renewable energy sector by 2030."

Stronger Climate Action Means More Regional Queensland Jobs

Media release 13 January 2021: Stronger Climate Action Means More Regional Jobs

As international pressure builds for the Australian Government to adopt more ambitious climate and clean energy targets, new analysis from community group Solar Citizens shows fast-tracking the energy transition could create an extra 22,000 construction and installation job years in Queensland by 2030 compared with business as usual.

The job figures, based on future scenario modelling from the Australian Energy Market Operator, take into account additional jobs that could be created in small and large-scale solar, wind and household batteries if Australia embraces stronger emission reduction targets.

“Turbocharging Queensland’s rollout of renewable energy could see a total of 44,000 clean energy job years created in the installation of solar, wind and distributed storage by 2030 as well as an additional 2,000 jobs in operations and maintenance,” said Solar Citizens’ Energy Strategist Stephanie Gray.

“The move to cleaner energy is a no-brainer here in the Sunshine State. Hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders are already seeing solar savings from their rooftop, and large-scale solar and wind projects are pushing ageing coal stations out of the market because they provide cheaper electricity.

“If we go beyond Queensland’s 50% renewable energy target we’ll see a surge of regional clean energy jobs that will help communities rebound from the economic downturn.”

The modelling shows that stronger climate and renewable energy commitments from the federal and state government would likely drive additional renewable energy investment in the Darling Downs, Central and Far North Queensland.

If Queensland’s world-leading rooftop solar industry continues to gain momentum, it could create 22,000 installation job years over the next ten years.

“Already Queensland’s solar homes are the state’s largest single generator of electricity and by 2030 this capacity could grow to four times the size of the state’s biggest coal station,” said Ms Gray.

“Queenslanders are quiet clean energy achievers. If our governments follow their lead it will drive down pollution, electricity prices and power jobs for the future.

“The Sunshine State is also one of the best places to develop new renewable hydrogen manufacturing and industry precincts. If our governments act fast, we’ll be well-placed to begin powering the world with Queensland-made renewable hydrogen.

“For a long time hardworking regional Queenslanders have been keeping our electricity system running and the lights on. This energy expertise will be critical as we move to the next generation of energy and begin to export our solar and wind resources to the world.”


[ENDS] 

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006 
Full report here.

Need for Federal Leadership as Cheap Renewables Disrupt Energy System

5 January 2021: Need for Federal Leadership as Cheap Renewables Disrupt Energy System

The Energy Security Board’s latest report on the health of the National Electricity Market demonstrates the clear need for the Morrison Government to implement a credible climate and renewable energy plan, according to community group Solar Citizens.

“Today’s report highlights the need for a credible energy transition plan from the Morrison Government because right now we’re seeing the transition happen rapidly but without proper coordination,” said Stephanie Gray, Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“We’re seeing cheaper renewable energy coming online quickly and it’s pushing out Australia’s ageing coal and gas generators from the mix. 

“It’s consumers that will have to pay more if the Morrison Government keeps failing to show leadership because we need to ensure there is adequate renewable energy generation and storage online to replace retiring coal and gas stations.

“The Federal Government needs to quit playing politics and acknowledge that the transition is here. It’s time to plan for coal closures and ensure that fossil fuel workers aren’t left out of the conversation.”

The Energy Security Board’s report notes that Australia’s ageing fossil fuel generators are a ‘reliability risk’ in New South Wales and Victoria.

“Ageing coal and gas generators are unreliable, particularly in the summer heat when energy is needed the most,” said Ms Gray.

“We know that renewables backed by storage can keep the lights on, but for the transition to happen smoothly we need the Morrison Government to come to the table. Their policy failings are hurting consumers and stalling a cleaner future for Australians.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Queensland's Clean Energy Spending No Match for Southern States

1 December 2020: Queensland's Clean Energy Spending No Match for Southern States

Community group Solar Citizens today commends the Queensland Government for delivering on their pre-election renewable energy commitments in today’s state budget, but says the Sunshine State has a long way to go to match NSW and Victoria’s clean energy leadership. 

“Allocating $645 million to clean energy and three new Renewable Energy Zones shows that the Queensland Government means business about building a better and more affordable energy future for Queenslanders,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens National Director. 

“But Queensland’s spending on clean energy falls short compared to the level of ambition we’re seeing from NSW and Victoria. 

“NSW just passed the biggest and most exciting renewable energy plan Australia has seen yet, and Victoria is helping another 42,000 homes get solar to slash their electricity bills.

“Queensland has world-class solar and wind resources. We could be a clean energy leader and power thousands of new jobs in renewable hydrogen production, but the meager $10 million allocated for hydrogen is not going to cut it.”

Solar Citizens says that this budget also misses opportunities to drive down electricity bills for renters and social housing tenants, especially as Queensland is set to suffer through another heatwave.  These comments come as the Australian Energy Regulator's latest report found that thousands of Australian households and small businesses are struggling to pay their power bills through the pandemic.

“The Queensland Government recently ran a successful solar for renters trial that saw participating tenants save $600 per year on average. Now that it’s summer, it’s a no-brainer to expand this trial so all households can afford to stay cool,” said Ms Roberts.

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen 0408 583 694

More Solar Homes for Victoria Welcomed

Solar Citizens welcomes the news today that the Victorian Labor State Government is investing $191 million to help more Victorians benefit from solar. 

Victoria will expand its Solar Homes program to provide solar panel rebates for an additional 42,000 households, and 15,000 rebates for small businesses for the first time. All Victorians will now be able to apply for one of 17,500 household battery rebates. 

“Rooftop solar helps slash power bills, so it’s a no-brainer to help more households and small businesses access solar when so many are doing it tough right now,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens National Director.

“Providing bill relief for small businesses and investing in the job-rich rooftop solar industry will stimulate much-needed economic growth

“Providing more batteries will also allow more households to get the maximum benefit from their solar systems”

“Plus we know that when more households export their power to the grid, it helps drive down power bills for everyone else - it’s a win win.”

[ENDS]

Media Contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

More support for Queensland hydrogen welcome

Solar Citizens today congratulates the Queensland Labor State Government on their commitment to kick-starting Queensland’s hydrogen industry, but says much more should be done.

“Today’s announcement for a further $10 million to develop Queensland’s hydrogen industry is welcome, but it’s not enough to turn the Sunshine State into a renewable hydrogen powerhouse,” said Solar Citizens’ National Director Ellen Roberts.

“We have incredible solar and wind resources here. We should be the envy of the world by producing cheap and abundant renewable hydrogen for export – powering long-term jobs and a future-proof economy.

“The time for trials is over. Queensland can be a world leader by turbocharging renewable hydrogen investment and co-locating hydrogen producers with industry.

“We’re yet to see any announcements in this space from the LNP opposition, which is even more disappointing. A thriving renewable hydrogen industry is a huge opportunity for regional Queensland and we should be getting on the front foot.” 

For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694