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Renewables could provide a quarter of our power in five years: ACF

Business

The surge in Queensland’s renewable energy was likely to produce a quarter of Queensland’s electricity needs within five years, but transmission was holding back future investment, according to a report from the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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But the findings in its report conflict with another report from the Clean Energy Council suggesting that investment in renewables has evaporated as projects grapple with an inability to connect to the grid.

The ACF report showed that if all proposed renewable projects in Queensland were to go ahead, they could add more electricity to the grid than all the power generated by coal and gas in the state combined.

ACF’s Jason Lyddieth said that while the report showed that while renewables have boomed in recent years, the boom is at risk without leadership from government.

“Like the Clean Energy Council our report identifies transmission as a major obstacle to Queensland fulfilling its potential to become a clean energy superpower,” he said.

The ACF report said the renewables boom could open up thousands of new jobs for engineers, truck drivers, electricians and mechanics.

“Much of the growth expected in the next five years will be driven by two very large projects – the Macintyre wind farm, near Warwick and the Western Downs solar farm near Chinchilla. And by more households and businesses adding solar systems to their rooftops,” the report claims.

“There has been a five-fold increase in Queensland’s consumption of renewable energy in 20 years. Between 2000 and 2010, renewables made up less than 4 per cent of Queenslanders’ power consumption. Now, in 2020, renewables account for more than 20 per cent of power consumption.

“This research identifies great potential for further growth and jobs in renewable energy in Queensland,” said ACF’s Queensland campaigner Jason Lyddieth.

“Queensland is well-positioned to be a superpower in the renewable industries of the future. But other states are investing heavily in clean energy, so it’s a competitive field.

“South Australia has a 100% clean energy target, while Tasmania is aiming for 200%, with plans to export renewable power to the mainland. Queensland faces significant competition for private sector investment.

The Queensland Government has a policy of reaching 50 per cent by 2030.

ACF said project sites identified by developers and in planning could provide more than 78,000 job-years of construction employment if they were all to proceed. There would also be a further 4100 ongoing full-time jobs in operations and maintenance

The Clean Energy Council data showed that the number of large-scale renewable energy projects committed in the second quarter of 2020 was the lowest since 2017, with just three projects representing 410 megawatts of new capacity reaching financial close.

“At $600 million, investment in financially committed projects was at its lowest level since 2017. Investment in Q2 2020 was therefore down significantly on the historical average, with a 46 per cent fall from the previous quarter and 52 per cent lower than the quarterly average for 2019.

 

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