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Queensland announces Renewable Energy Zone ambition

16 November: Queensland announces Renewable Energy Zone ambition

The Queensland government has announced they plan to unlock 3,300MW of new renewable energy generation in the initial stages of developing their three Renewable Energy Zone regions. 

Southern Queensland is expected to host the lion’s share of new renewable energy projects with grid upgrades allowing 2,000MW of new renewable energy projects to connect locally. Central Queensland will receive investment to host another 800MW, while a 500MW upgrade has already been announced for Northern Queensland. 

Across Australia the need for more grid infrastructure has been a major hurdle that has slowed investment in new renewable energy projects. A Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) is a region with good renewable energy resources where it is strategic to build or upgrade infrastructure so new solar, wind and storage projects can connect to the grid. 

Community group Solar Citizens welcomes the announcement, but says the State government’s ambition is dwarfed by other states. 

“Both New South Wales and Victoria have announced Renewable Energy Zone targets that will propel them towards becoming clean energy and hydrogen superpowers,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens. 

“Victoria has a 10,000MW target while New South Wales is aiming to bring online 12,000MW of new renewable energy projects and 2,000MW of storage by 2030. Queensland’s plan to unlock 3,300MW looks measly in comparison.

“The Sunshine State has all the right ingredients to kick-start new industries in areas like renewable hydrogen production and battery manufacturing for electric vehicles. We’ve got critical mineral resources needed for clean technology, a skilled workforce and the possibility for abundant and cheap renewable energy.

“But unless we at least match the ambition of other Australian states, we risk investors taking their funding elsewhere.

“We’re calling on the Queensland government to ensure at least 2,000MW of new renewable energy generation is added to each of Queensland’s three RenewableEnergy Zone regions by 2025 so the State doesn’t miss out on new clean energy industries.”

Last year the Queensland government announced $145 million to establish three Renewable Energy Zones. So far they have allocated $62 million of this to underpin a transmission upgrade in Far North Queensland and undertake a business case analysis of the Borumba pumped hydro project. 

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Queensland Falls Behind NSW, Vic in REZ Rollout

1 November 2021: Queensland Falls Behind NSW, Vic in REZ Rollout

Queensland is estimated to fall short of its 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 target with new Australian government projections showing the Sunshine State is only on track to reach 43 per cent. This puts other Australian states well ahead of Queensland with New South Wales estimated to reach 84 per cent by 2030, Victoria 61 per cent, and South Australia 96 per cent.

This comes as a new report by community group Solar Citizens says that the Queensland government is falling behind other States in the Renewable Energy Zone rollout and can do a lot more to set the stage for hosting the world’s first climate positive Olympics.

“We did a deep dive looking at Queensland’s progress on emissions reduction and the rollout of clean energy and found the Sunshine State gets a bronze medal where we really should be going for gold before the 2032 Olympics,” said Stephanie Gray, Solar Citizens’ Energy Strategist. 

“The Queensland government and state-owned energy companies have announced a series of exciting commitments lately that will see a number of new large-scale renewable energy projects come online, but after years of dragging their feet there’s much more to do to even reach our existing emission reduction and clean energy targets.

“Hosting a climate positive Olympics means we have to drastically overhaul our energy and transport sectors over the next 11 years. The 2012 London Olympics produced as much carbon pollution as running a whole coal-fired power station for a year.”

Solar Citizens notes that Queensland is behind New South Wales and Victoria in the rollout of Renewable Energy Zones, with both southern states having set targets for unlocking a substantial amount of new renewable energy and storage projects. Victoria has a 10,000MW target while New South Wales is aiming to bring online 12,000MW of new renewable energy projects and 2,000MW of storage by 2030. Queensland has no target. 

“Announcing three Renewable Energy Zones is a hollow commitment without a target for how much renewable energy we’re going to unlock with new infrastructure,” said Ms Gray.

“Over the last few years we’ve seen investment in large-scale renewables go from boom to bust in Queensland because there’s a pressing need for new infrastructure and energy policy certainty.

“We would like to see the Queensland government ensure that at least 2,000MW of new renewable energy is added to each of Queensland’s Renewable Energy Zones by 2025 on top of the projects already under construction. This will set us on the right track to meet new manufacturing and transport demand with affordable and clean energy.”

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Queensland currently has 37 large-scale solar and wind farms operating across the state, with a further eight large-scale renewable projects under construction. The projects currently under construction are powering 6,300 jobs and represent a substantial 1,757MW of new generation capacity for Queensland. A further four projects are likely to proceed to construction in the coming years.

  • As of 2019, Queensland’s emissions were approximately 14% lower than 2005 levels. There’s still a long way to go to reach the existing 30% by 2030 target and then go beyond that for the 2032 climate positive Olympics.

  • Queensland now has over 800,000 solar homes and businesses and 4,125MW of installed rooftop solar capacity across the state. According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) this could rise up to 11,100MW over the next 10 years; growth that Solar Citizens says will create 4,050 ongoing installation jobs. 

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Full report available here. 
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Fair Price for Solar Needed to Keep Cheap Renewable Energy in the Grid

29 September 2021: Fair Price for Solar Needed to Keep Cheap Renewable Energy in the Grid

Community advocacy group Solar Citizens is calling for all states to introduce government mandated feed-in tariffs to ensure households receive a fair price for the energy they share. 

A report by ABC News today showed solar households are sensitive to reductions in feed-in tariffs and energy policy announcements. 

Currently, Victoria is the only state with a government mandated minimum solar feed-in tariff. 

“As we see feed-in tariffs continue to drop all over the country, more and more households are turning to batteries as they are seeing less value in exporting their energy, said Ellen Roberts, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“We want to encourage battery uptake so households can get the most out of their solar, but not by devaluing the investment they have made in their solar systems.

“Cheap solar in the grid helps lower power bills for all energy users and reduce emissions – it’s a win-win. We need to make sure that contribution is being compensated fairly. 

“Right now, consumers are having to shop around to find a fair price, and it could change at any time. And on top of lowering feed-in tariffs, solar homes and businesses are now facing new charges to even export their power – it’s changing the economics of rooftop solar.”

In August, the Australian Energy Market Commission ruled that distribution networks can now charge fees to solar homes and businesses to export their electricity.  

“Government mandated feed-in tariffs are needed to protect the investments solar households have made, and ensure we continue to encourage the uptake of rooftop solar. 

“We don’t want to see the uptake slow down because consumers feel there is too much uncertainty around investing in solar. 

“Unfair feed-in tariffs could backfire if we see more people turn away from exporting, or getting solar in the first place - leading to less cheap solar in the grid and potentially higher power prices for everyone.”

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

NSW’s Climate Ambition Leaves Qld in the Dust

29 September 2021: NSW’s Climate Ambition Leaves Qld in the Dust

NSW has this morning announced a more ambitious 50% emissions reduction target for 2030, leaving Queensland well behind most of Australia’s states and territories.

Commitments to reduce climate pollution 

 

2030 target

2050 target

NSW

50% (up from 35%)

Net zero

Federal

26-28%

Uncommitted

Vic

45-50%

Net zero

Qld

30%

Net zero

WA

26-28%

Net zero

SA

50%

Net zero

Tas

Already net zero emissions

-

NT

No target

Net zero

ACT

65%

Net zero by 2045

(Credit: NSW Conservation Council)

“Queensland is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics in 2032, and yet we’re losing the race to slashing emissions,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens. 

“We don’t want to embarrass ourselves on the world stage when the spotlight falls on Queensland. This is the time to show leadership.

“Our research shows that climate action is good for Queensland jobs. An extra 22,000 jobs would be created across Queensland’s regions by 2030 if we turbocharged the rollout of renewable energy.

“Burning fossil fuels like coal is the biggest source of climate pollution but the State government has no plans to retire their six state-owned coal stations early, which means even achieving our existing emission reduction targets will be an uphill battle.

“The energy sector is by far the biggest polluter in Queensland, accounting for about 40% of emissions. We simply can’t be serious about climate action without planning for early coal retirements.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Stronger Climate Action will Power Up Queensland Jobs

27 September 2021: Stronger Climate Action will Power Up Queensland Jobs

As pressure builds for the Australian Government to adopt a net zero by 2050 climate target, analysis from community group Solar Citizens has shown that 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.

“Queensland will miss out on job opportunities if we don’t embrace climate action. If we drag our feet we’ll miss the chance to establish thriving new export industries in renewable hydrogen, ‘green’ steel and aluminium,” said Solar Citizens’ Energy Strategist Stephanie Gray.

“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.” 

The Queensland job figures, released earlier this year and 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.

Solar Citizens has also analysed job opportunities in Townsville, finding that low carbon manufacturing and industry projects would provide a $154 billion economic boost over their lifetime and over 3,950 ongoing jobs if they were powered by renewable energy projects.

Over the weekend Townsville business and community leaders announced a new consortium to position the city as a hydrogen and renewable energy manufacturing hub.

“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.

“Queensland is one of the best places to develop new renewable powered 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.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Hydrogen Approval Demonstrates Why Townsville Shouldn’t Miss Out on Federal Funding

September 22: Hydrogen Approval Demonstrates Why Townsville Shouldn’t Miss Out on Federal Funding.

The approval of Edify Energy’s solar and hydrogen project at the Lansdown Eco-industrial site was today celebrated by community group Solar Citizens, who say Townsville can have a bright economic future in new industries underpinned by abundant, cheap renewable energy. 

Edify plans to develop a 1GW renewable hydrogen facility, alongside a solar and battery power plant.

“The Federal government has just allocated $150 million in additional funding to establish hydrogen hubs across the country. This is a great initiative but so far Townsville isn’t on their priority list,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

“When you’ve got Edify, Sun Metals and Origin Energy all planning to invest in renewable hydrogen projects, it would be a real shame if Townsville missed out on this federal funding. 

“Townsville has all the key ingredients to be a clean energy industrial powerhouse: some of Australia’s best solar resources, a skilled local workforce and world-class port facilities.

“Our report published earlier this year found that turning Townsville into a renewable industry powerhouse would create over 3,950 ongoing jobs and a $154 billion economic boost for the region. 

“Townsville has incredible potential but all levels of government need to back the region and build the enabling infrastructure to see these opportunities realised.”

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Media contact: Stephanie 0425543006

Renewables Shine Bright in Qld Infrastructure Pipeline

9 September 2021: Renewables Shine Bright in Qld Infrastructure Pipeline

The
Queensland Government Infrastructure Pipeline has just been released, showing the exciting role that renewable energy projects are playing in Queensland’s covid economic recovery. 

The pipeline shows there are 34 renewable energy plants already operating in Queensland with a further 10 projects committed and under construction. All of this renewable energy activity represents around $10 billion in investment and more than 7,000 construction jobs.

“Thousands of people are already employed in Queensland’s renewable energy sector, from rooftop solar installers, technology developers, and construction workers,” said Stephanie Gray, Solar Citizens’ Energy Strategist. 

“But this sector is just getting started. As we move towards a decarbonised economy, we’ll need to produce three times more electricity than we generate now to power things like electric cars. 

“The demand for abundant and cheap renewable energy is only going to grow and so are the jobs in this space.

The Infrastructure Pipeline report highlights the growing role renewable manufacturing and minerals processing will play in Queensland’s economy, as the world demands low carbon products that Queensland is well-placed to provide. According to the report, approximately three quarters of lithium used in Tesla’s electric vehicle batteries and one third of the nickel is currently sourced from Australia.

“North Queensland has some of the world’s best solar resources and critical mineral deposits needed as the world rolls out more electric transport and battery storage. This means we can not only ship minerals overseas, but also use abundant cheap renewable energy to process and manufacture here,” said Ms Gray. 

“Government investment in more renewable energy generation, electric transport and local manufacturing will secure this unique opportunity to create thousands of good Queensland jobs.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Solar households to face a sun tax for exporting their clean power

12th August 2021: Solar households to face a sun tax for exporting their clean power

Solar Citizens has today slammed a ruling by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) which will see Australian solar households charged for exporting their clean energy. 

Known as ‘the sun tax’, this rule change will see networks now given the power to charge solar households, previously prohibited under the energy rules. 

“This decision to penalise households for sharing their clean solar energy is deeply  disappointing,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“We will see less renewable energy in the grid if people are discouraged from exporting or investing in solar panels in the first place. Households now have to pay to export their power while big coal and gas generators get off scot free. This does not make our energy system fairer. 

“The Victorian and Queensland Energy Ministers have stated their strong opposition to charging solar householders in their States. It’s now up to all Energy Ministers to say whether they will implement these rules in their State, or whether they will protect rooftop solar. The ball is in their court. 

“South Australia, Tasmania and NSW have also expressed concern at existing solar households being penalised, but this proposal will see existing customers charged for exporting their power in just three years. 

“The AEMC has stated that all solar customers will be offered an option not to be charged, but in South Australia, for example, this would slash households’ export capacity to less than a third of what it is now. 

“This rule change gives all the power to networks without adequate safeguards to protect consumers.

“Rooftop solar is challenging coal fired power stations and threatening them with early closure. If we want our emissions to go down we need to see more rooftop solar exports, not less. 

“We know that Australia’s solar homes and businesses are not only driving down electricity bills but also playing a major role in slashing Australia’s emissions. The sun tax shows Morrison’s ‘technology not taxes’ for the empty slogan that it is. This week Morrison talked up Australia’s world leading rates of rooftop solar while standing by as ordinary households are charged for doing their bit to bring down power prices and emissions.”

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Heat on Queensland to Deliver Climate Action

11 August 2021: Heat on Queensland to Deliver Climate Action

The Queensland government’s recently released Climate Action Plan falls well short of the urgent action called for in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The IPCC report warns global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during this century unless deep emission reductions occur in the coming decades. Based on this new information, the Climate Council has concluded that Australia should reduce its emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions by 2035.

“Brisbane is set to hold the world’s first climate positive Olympics in 2032, but so far Queensland is falling behind in the race to cut emissions,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

“The Morrison government is failing to deliver a responsible plan for minimising the worst impacts of climate change, so Queenslanders have to depend on the State government to step up and fill the federal policy vacuum.

“Releasing the Climate Action Plan website was a good first step, but much more heavy lifting has to be done, particularly in the energy sector.

“Burning fossil fuels like coal is the biggest source of climate pollution but the government has no plans to retire their six state-owned coal stations early, which will make achieving emission reduction targets an uphill battle.”

The Queensland government has committed to zero net emissions by 2050 and an interim target to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Two coal stations in Queensland are slated for as long as 2051, including state-owned Callide C.

In the Queensland Climate Transition Strategy released in 2017, one of the key actions outlined was ‘demonstrate leadership by reducing emissions from Queensland Government operations’, and yet the State government owns two of the biggest polluters in Australia: CS Energy and Stanwell Corporation.

“The energy sector is by far the biggest polluter in Queensland, accounting for about 40% of emissions. We simply can’t be serious about climate action without planning for early coal retirements,” said Ms Gray.

“When the world’s spotlight falls on Queensland in 2032 we want to show off our incredible natural assets like the Great Barrier Reef and the best way to do that is becoming leaders on climate action.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

See how Queensland is progressing on emissions reductions targets here: https://www.des.qld.gov.au/climateaction/emissions-targets

New Regulations Threaten Clean Energy Funding

29th July 2021: New Regulations Threaten Clean Energy Funding

Solar Citizens has condemned the Morrison Government’s latest attack on clean energy funding today.  

The Federal Government has today introduced new regulations to expand the remit of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to allow investment in a broader range of “low emissions” technologies, beyond the agency’s intended renewable scope. Similar regulations introduced in May were disallowed by the Senate. 

“Angus Taylor is trying to turn the Australian Renewable Energy Agency into a fossil fuel slush fund, said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“The Australian Renewable Energy Agency can already invest in the technologies we need to lower emissions: renewable energy backed by storage. 

“This is just the latest attempt by this Government to undermine clean energy funding and use it to prop up dying fossil fuel projects.

“These regulations could open the door to renewable energy funding being used to prolong the life coal and gas with unproven carbon capture technology, or investment in dirty hydrogen.

“Similar regulations were rejected by the Senate just a month ago. Taylor is once again trying to misuse his power as Energy Minister to sidestep normal law-making processes.

“ARENA is key to the Government’s strategy to invest in clean energy technology and lower emissions. The remit change could stall emissions reductions even further, as genuine solar and wind projects lose out on already limited renewables funding.”

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

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694