How much progress has the Queensland Government made towards its renewable goals?
3GW of Rooftop Solar by 2020
In 2015, the Queensland Government committed to 1 million solar rooftops, or 3GW of rooftop PV capacity by 2020. With less than a year until the 2020 deadline, it’s clear that QLD won’t reach 1 million rooftops – but due to a surge in commercial rooftop installations, the Sunshine State is well on the way to reaching 3GW.
Queensland leads Australia’s states and territories with an impressive 600,000 solar rooftops. In fact, over 30% of all households in the state have solar PV pumping our clean, renewable energy. If installations continue in the same trend as they did in 2018, Queensland will be on track to reach around 2.8GW of installed capacity by the end of the year. Our Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions report found that overall QLD’s solar owners would save a total of $414 million per year.
Unfortunately, the state government hasn’t done a whole lot to expand the rooftop revolution, especially in comparison to the Victorian and South Australian Governments. Across Queensland, renters, people living in apartments and low-income households struggle to access solar to slash their electricity bills – and there is little being done to address these barriers that stop families from getting solar.
One QLD Government initiative is the Affordable Energy Plan that kicked off in 2018 and offers no-interest loans for solar and storage. The plan also includes a trial incentive scheme so that up to 1,000 rental homes in Bundaberg, Gladstone and Townsville can install solar. This is better than nothing, but it pales in comparison to the Victoria’s scheme that will help 50,000 rental properties install solar – providing tenants with the opportunity to slash their electricity bills and pollution.
At Least 50% Renewable Energy by 2030
Our Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions report shows that if all the clean, renewable projects in the planning and construction pipeline go ahead then up to 90% of Queensland’s generation needs could be met with renewables. Unfortunately, the projects that are booming across the state are largely driven by the federal large-scale renewable energy target (RET) which ends in 2020. The QLD Government is yet to release a roadmap for how it plans to reach at least 50% renewable energy, and without this policy certainty, investment across the state could stall.
The state government’s promised 400MW reverse auction, including 100 megawatts of energy storage, is now almost two years overdue. And while initiatives like Solar 150 have helped a number of projects come to fruition, there’s still a long way to go as Queensland’s renewable generation currently only sits at around 10%.
The Sunshine State could be a renewable super power that exports clean, renewable energy overseas. For more clean energy jobs, less pollution and lower bills it’s time for the state government to introduce a linear pathway for Queensland’s transition to 100% renewables and beyond.
CleanCo Renewable Energy Retailer
The Queensland Government have made good progress towards establishing a publicly-owned clean energy retailer, CleanCo, and it should begin trading this year. Unfortunately, the government has only allocated $250 million towards CleanCo, which is not enough to deliver the 1000MW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2025 as promised.
In addition, CleanCo’s portfolio also includes the Swanbank E gas plant – a disappointing inclusion for a ‘clean’ energy retailer. The state government should use CleanCo to propel Queensland into the future by investing in solar thermal plant to provide around the clock sun-power.