North Queenslanders back rapid renewable transition
29 August 2022: North Queenslanders back rapid renewable transition
New polling of the Townsville Local Government Area has revealed that a staggering 85 per cent of residents support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
The poll of 610 Townsville residents was conducted by UComms for community group Solar Citizens. It also found 55 per cent agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030.
“Businesses are lining up to start manufacturing clean products in Townsville because of the region’s impressive solar and wind resources, and good port facilities,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“Already there are significant plans to begin producing renewable hydrogen and manufacture battery materials and solar panels locally. These polling results clearly show that the community supports projects like these to power long-term good jobs.
“It’s now up to the State Government to make sure these proposed projects proceed. They can do that by announcing plans to turn Townsville into a clean manufacturing hub and ensuring enough cheap renewable energy is coming online locally to meet growing demand.”
This polling comes as the Queensland Government is developing a 10-Year Energy Plan that will plan for the State’s energy system up to 2032 when Queensland will host the world’s first climate positive Olympics. The plan is expected to be released in the coming months.
When polled, 62 per cent of local residents agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar. Fifty five per cent said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by the 2032 Olympics.
Similarly, 55 per cent agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.
“Queensland is well behind other Australian states as we only generate about 20 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources. Our reliance on expensive coal and gas means we have the highest wholesale power prices in Australia’s main grid,” said Ms Gray.
“The irony is that we have some of the country’s best solar and wind resources, especially in North Queensland where we get more than 300 days of sunshine. Building more renewable energy here is a no brainer.
“We’d like to see the Queensland Government deliver a sensible plan to urgently transform our energy system with affordable renewable energy. Only then will Queensland be competitively positioned to make the most of our potential to power new clean manufacturing industries.”
55% agree or strongly agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030. 75% of Labor voters agree or strongly agree.
85% strongly support or support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
62% agree or strongly agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar.
When asked what the deadline should be for moving to a renewables-powered grid, the most common answer was 10 years or less (35%), followed by 10-15 years (22%).
Similarly, 55% said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2032 when the State is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics.
55% agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.
Rhian first began working as an electrician in North Queensland’s sugar industry and later took work closer to home at the Sun Metals’ zinc refinery in Townsville.
In 2018, Sun Metals commissioned a 124 MW solar farm to help reduce the running costs of the refinery. For Rhian, the move to working in renewable energy was an exciting opportunity to learn new skills and progress his career. When the opportunity came up, he leapt at the chance to work on the development of the solar farm.
Rhian is now employed by Ark Energy, Sun Metals’ sister company, as the Operations and Maintenance Manager for the solar farm. Impressively, today the solar farm produces the equivalent of a third of the refinery's energy needs.
“Ark Energy felt like the perfect fit for me. There is so much room to learn new skills and grow into the future,” said Rhian.
“Working in renewable energy is great because it’s ever-evolving. I’m never bored. I’m always learning and I love it.
“I have two young boys and it will be great for them to grow up knowing that their dad was involved in the transition to cleaner energy.”
Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Korea Zinc, has progressive plans to develop a 3,500 MW renewable hydrogen facility in Townsville by 2040. In 2030, they are aiming to have established a 900 MW electrolyser, which will require up to 2,200 MW of renewable energy generation to run.
Rhian is one of the Ark Energy teammates who is working to establish a renewable hydrogen pilot at the zinc refinery site. The renewable hydrogen fuel generated from the project will be used to power five new fuel-cell electric trucks.
Ark Energy's mission is to become the safest and most competitive producer of green hydrogen in the world and Townsville is at the heart of their plans.