How one regional Queensland town is reshaping Australia’s clean energy future - Solar Citizens

How one regional Queensland town is reshaping Australia’s clean energy future

How can one town in regional Queensland change Australia’s clean energy future?

For the last few years Solar Citizens has been working in Townsville—Queensland’s largest regional city—to demonstrate how embracing clean energy can slash power bills and create good jobs in new clean manufacturing industries. 

This work has been vital in shifting the national conversation because we’ve been able to show federal and state politicians that communities in the cities, suburbs and regions are all demanding clean energy solutions – it's just good economic sense!

Recently, we released polling we commissioned of Townsville residents that was so groundbreaking it was referenced by the Queensland Energy Minister Mick De Brenni in Parliament to demonstrate the broad community support for clean energy. It was also covered in the media via local TV, radio and the Townsville Bulletin.

The polling demonstrates a big shift in support of renewables in the community because only a few years ago some politicians were using the promise of funding for a new local coal-fired power station to win votes in North Queensland.

These are the key findings from our polling: 

  • 85% support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing. 
  • 62% agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar.
  • 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. 

This is a big deal, because despite its name, the Sunshine State is actually Australia’s biggest polluter. The majority of energy generation in Queensland, including coal-fired power stations, are still owned by the State Government. And sadly, Queensland state-owned energy corporations are some of the most polluting in the country. So even if we get other states and territories to embrace clean energy, if we don’t get Queensland onboard then Australia will still be a major carbon polluter.

With only 20% clean energy, Queensland is trailing the rest of the nation in renewable energy uptake. But solar citizens across the state are working hard to turn that around. 

Recently local solar citizens joined me to hand over the polling to two Townsville State MPs: Aaron Harper and Scott Stewart.

This shift in community attitudes in Townsville specifically comes after local solar citizens, with your help, campaigned on the ground in the lead up to the federal election for $70 million to turn the city into a renewable hydrogen hub and $22 million to set up a new sustainable manufacturing precinct – and we won! 

The next step of our campaign work is to ensure Townsville gets named as Australia’s first Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct – a hub for clean manufacturing and minerals processing. It will be a flagship project that will demonstrate to Queensland, and the entire nation, how clean energy can power good long-term jobs and economic prosperity.  

Right now, the Queensland Government is developing a new 10-Year Energy Plan to map out the State’s energy future. Thousands of solar citizens have already taken action to ensure this plan delivers the clean energy solutions we need to drive down pollution and set up regional centres, like Townsville, for a bright economic future. 

There’s lots of work still left to do in the Sunshine State, but our work in Townsville has demonstrated that we can and are already making a difference.