Labor ramps up subsidies under renewable scheme

The State Government will use some of a $145 million renewable energy policy as a taxpayer-funded lure for companies to expand or establish their projects in three regional Queensland zones.


Aug 27, 2020, updated Aug 27, 2020
The renewables sector has been strongly criticised in the report (Photo: NTRES REUTERS/Albert Gea  AG/GN/CN)

The renewables sector has been strongly criticised in the report (Photo: NTRES REUTERS/Albert Gea AG/GN/CN)

The new Renewable Energy Zones scheme from Labor adds to the Government’s $200 million payment to Virgin Mk II to ensure it kept its headquarters in Brisbane and a $150 million industry attraction fund which seeks to bring contestable projects to Queensland.

The funds will be used as a part of the three Renewable Energy Zones it announced with little detail earlier this month as Labor seeks to establish green credentials in the run-up to the October election. They will be in southern, central and northern Queensland in areas identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator as being capable of hosting large amounts of new renewable projects.

“The $145 million will be used for transmission infrastructure, industry attraction incentives to incentivise several very large projects to expand or relocate to the zones, and other services and infrastructure, for example synchronous condensors, to support the grid,” Lynham said.

“These zones will become an enabler for regional jobs through the construction phase but can be leveraged to help to secure surrounding industries, including in agriculture, resources and new economy minerals processing.

“These zones can also help set the stage for Queensland’s next energy export in a renewable hydrogen industry.

“It is estimated that the funds could be used to leverage around $1 billion in additional investment, supporting around 500 jobs, from the Commonwealth as well as private investors.

The fund is an attempt to grow the renewables industry in Queensland in the absence of a national scheme. NSW has also announced three REZs at a cost of $120 million.

Queensland has almost 15,000 megawatts of projects with development approval across the state. However, nearly all parts of the network need augmentation to support new renewable projects.

While renewable energy has low costs, it causes problems for grid stability because of the variable output from solar and wind farms. The Government has indicated that it may invest in infrastructure, such as synchronous condensors, which stabilise the input.

“The three Queensland renewable energy zones are a means to efficiently integrate more renewables. They will also assist to maintain the renewable energy and related job growth momentum of the past five years, which have seen 40 large scale renewable projects become operational or financially committed,” Lynham said.

Expressions of interest will be called for building projects in the zone and Powerlink and the Government would work with proponents to plan efficient network investment, potential investor contributions and seeking Commonwealth co-investment.

Industry will be attracted to the zone through the funding pool, and as industry is drawn to the zone, generators are expected to follow.

The Government-owned Stanwell Corporation this week announced an offtake agreement that will help underwrite the 348 MW  Clarke Creek Wind Farm.

Located in the heart of Central Queensland approximately 150 km north-west of Rockhampton, construction of the two-stage project is expected to commence in 2021, with the clean energy generated expected to flow into the grid from 2023.

The Greens today announced their manufacturing policy which includes a plan to build a Government-owned manufacturing plant for solar panels, wind turbines and “green steel”. The plants would be in Townsville, Rockhampton and Gladstone.


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