2020 Queensland Election Asks
Queensland has a unique set of natural advantages that could see the state prosper as the world moves towards a low carbon future. Here in the Sunshine State, there’s an abundance of solar and wind resources as well as a wealth of clean energy expertise and innovation.
Already, we’ve seen large-scale renewable energy projects create thousands of construction jobs and direct millions worth of investment to Queensland’s regions. Now, low-cost renewable energy can make it competitive for new industries to set up shop in Queensland, like ‘green’ steel manufacturing and renewable hydrogen production.
But for these opportunities to be fully realised, the next State Government must urgently act to remove roadblocks that are halting renewable energy investment.
Right now the large-scale renewable energy industry is suffering due to a lack of energy policy certainty, transmission bottlenecks and low electricity demand during the middle of the day.
For a thriving renewable energy industry that continues to create regional employment and opportunities for new industries, the following interventions are urgently needed.
1. Maintain majority public ownership of electricity generation in Queensland, in part by committing 1GW of new publicly-owned generation to construction by the end of 2020.
The Queensland Government has already committed to delivering 1GW of renewable generation through CleanCo by 2025. Bringing forward the construction of new publicly-owned renewable projects will create much-needed regional jobs and investment, and this can be achieved by allocating more funding to CleanCo to build, own and operate new generation.
2. Commit to a reverse auction initiative of at least 4GW over the next term of government, prioritising projects that feature local content to drive Queensland renewable manufacturing.
Reverse auctions provide long-term support agreements to proponents, creating investment certainty for new renewable energy projects. This is the policy option that has seen large-scale renewables grow rapidly in Victoria, and crucially has driven local renewable manufacturing by encouraging local procurement through the evaluation process.
A 4GW reverse auction would create close to 10,250 construction jobs, 12,200 manufacturing jobs, and 660 ongoing and maintenance jobs.
3. Develop clear goals and a roadmap for the transition to 100% renewable energy to give certainty to consumers and industry.
The state’s 50% renewable energy target needs a plan for how it will be achieved. The target alone does not encourage private renewable energy investment.
A planned transition will maximise job opportunities in new industries, provide a clear pathway for transitioning workers, and ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of consumers.
4. Urgently deliver three Renewable Energy Zones and fast-track the delivery of all Queensland transmission projects outlined in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan.
These projects include:
- Queensland to NSW Interconnector (QNI) upgrades;
- Augmentation to the northern Queensland network to support REZ development;
- Upgrade of the network from Central to Southern Queensland;
- Reinforcement of the network around Gladstone.
Investing in these transmission upgrades will allow for better interconnection between states, and for the development or further development of the Darling Downs, Far North Queensland, Isaac and Fitzroy Renewable Energy Zones.
5. Roll out 50,000 household battery storage systems by 2025 with rebates and no-interest loans – prioritising Queensland made or developed battery systems.
A 10,000 a year goal follows in the footsteps of South Australia. South Australia also used their battery scheme to encourage local manufacturing by prioritising systems assembled in the state. If 50,000 5kW battery systems were subsidised, it would create 280 installation jobs over 5 years, 73 jobs in operations and maintenance and an additional 330 jobs over the same period if the batteries were manufactured locally.
6. Increase dispatchable capacity, starting by investigating opportunities for off-river pumped hydro, community-scale batteries and Virtual Power Plants (VPPs).
On mild, sunny days in Queensland it’s becoming more frequent for the wholesale price of electricity to go negative because of excess solar generation, which undermines the market for new solar generation. Investing in off-river pumped hydro, hydro on existing dams and battery storage is a win-win policy initiative that will create employment, increase the market for new renewable energy generation and work to resolve emerging grid issues. There’s also an opportunity to increase dispatchable capacity with a grant scheme, following in the footsteps of NSW’s ‘Emerging Energy Program’.
7. Install energy efficiency upgrades or solar panels on all of Queensland’s 50,000 social homes.
A $215 million package to install solar and energy efficient upgrades on social homes across Queensland would save households up to $1,100 per year on their energy bills. The scheme would also create more than 1,800 jobs and stimulate local economies during the COVID-19 crisis.
Solar Citizens also supports the following policies that will work to make cheap, renewable energy accessible to more consumers and establish a fairer energy system.
Power all Queensland Government operations with renewable energy. Select Councils across the country have signed power purchase agreements with renewable energy generators and the State Government should follow in their footsteps.
Expand and prioritise the rollout of solar and storage for remote communities – while ensuring appropriate community consultation. The Queensland Government has committed to rolling out renewable solutions in remote communities Bamaga, Mapoon, Pormpuraaw and Doomadgee. This could be expanded to more remote communities. Installing solar and storage microgrids in remote communities, or fire-prone areas, can be a good investment that will result in long-term fuel and network savings.
Extend the popular no-interest small-scale solar and battery loan scheme. This scheme targeted lower income homeowners who had electricity bills of over $1,000 over six months. If 20,000 solar systems were installed through this scheme it would create 500 jobs in Queensland.
Develop a Just Transition Policy Framework. This will support impacted workers to transition to new employment, and support sustainable economic development and employment opportunities in communities affected by the transition.
Introduce a Queensland energy efficiency target by 2020 and a certificate program to support residential and commercial energy efficiency. This should draw on the strongest features of the NSW and Victorian schemes.