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Winds of change: Labor to fund massive wind farm on eve of energy deal reveal

The State Government has begun delivering its energy plan with a $776 million deal with renewables giant RES to build the Tarong West wind farm.

Sep 26, 2022, updated Sep 26, 2022
The State Government will fund a major wind farm project

The State Government will fund a major wind farm project

Although the Tarong West project would not reach an investment decision until 2024, the Government is building towards the release of its energy plan on Wednesday.

It was currently in the position of having an emission target well behind that of the Federal Government and, because of its ownership of a relatively young fleet of coal-fired power stations, was also one of the big CO2 emitters in Australia.

However, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queenslanders would build Australia’s largest publicly-owned wind farm in the South Burnett, through its government-owned corporation, Stanwell, which will have 100 per cent of the project which is next door to the Cooper’s Gap wind farm.

It would eliminate 1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent and effectively generate enough electricity to power the Gold Coast.

“This project with up to 150 turbines could generate 500 megawatts capacity, enough clean electricity to power up to 230,000 homes,” Palaszczuk said.

“It will also create around 200 jobs during construction and 15 ongoing jobs when operational.

“It’s investments like this that will ensure we deliver on our net-zero ambitions and our promise to Queenslanders to become a global renewable energy superpower.”

Queensland has committed to achieving zero net emissions by 2050, with an interim target to reduce emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Albanese Government has an emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030.

Today’s announcement would lift renewable generation to 21 per cent of the total and the Premier said there was tremendous appetite for investment in the Queensland energy sector.

Palaszczuk said the energy plan announcement would be one of the biggest made by the Government.

But the Greens have also started increasing their pressure on the Government to shut down all of the coal and gas fired generators by 2030.

Greens MP and energy spokesman Michael Berkman said Labor was talking a big game about building renewable buts its emission targets were “the real elephant in the room”.

“If they don’t stop burning coal by 2030 we will breach our Paris obligations and cook our climate,” Berkman said.

“We’re lucky in Queensland to own our power stations, so the Government can implement the energy transition demanded by climate science while ensuring no workers loses their job or pay.”

The Premier said since becoming Premier in 2015, her government has been working hard to ensure Queenslanders have a clean energy future.

“After a renewable energy black-out under the former LNP government, we now have 50 renewable energy projects operating or committed across Queensland,” the Premier said.

“That’s billions of dollars already invested in setting us up to capitalize on the jobs, industries, and exports of the future.

“We are now focused on what the next decade will look like, and I’ll have a lot more to say on this in this week’s CEDA State of the State address.”

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the Tarong West project, funded from the Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs fund would boost Stanwell’s current asset portfolio and is expected to provide substantial commercial value.

“Ownership of Tarong West Wind Farm ensures Stanwell Corporation will have dispatch control of significant renewable generation capacity,” he said.

“In the past four years, the Palaszczuk Government has delivered up to $575 of dividends to Queensland electricity customers via asset ownership dividends and cost of living rebates.

“All that money – nearly $1.19 billion – has gone back into the pockets of Queenslanders instead of corporate shareholders.

“That’s only possible because Queenslanders own a significant stake in the state’s electricity assets.”

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said renewable energy was the cheapest form of electricity and public ownership would allow for an orderly transition.

“Today’s funding announcement shows Queenslanders that the Palaszczuk Government is serious about becoming a global renewable energy powerhouse,” de Brenni said.

“It provides assurance that Queensland will be able to deliver on its promise of affordable and reliable power for new industries and new manufacturing sectors in the clean energy era of tomorrow

“By growing our publicly owned portfolio of clean energy generation, it means Queenslanders will continue to control their energy system as it transforms to lower emissions.”

The proposed Tarong West Wind Farm, at Ironpot 30 kilometres south west of Kingaroy, sits within the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone, one of three designated regions established across the state to accelerate clean energy projects.

Tarong West Wind Farm could be built in a strategic partnership with global renewable energy giant RES which has over 40 years of experience in clean electricity projects and is now active in 10 countries.

RES Australia-based Chife executive Matt Rebbeck said the company was excited about the prospect of helping Queensland build more clean energy projects.

“Our vision is a future where everyone has access to affordable zero-carbon energy,” he said.

Stanwell CEO Michael O’Rourke said the commitment marked a significant milestone for the publicly owned corporation.

“The Tarong West Wind Farm project supports decarbonisation of our existing portfolio and will help us to meet our customers’ demand for renewable energy products.

“It will also provide future career development opportunities for our people.”

A final decision on the Tarong West Wind Farm is expected in 2024. If approved, construction would also commence in 2024, with commercial operations from 2026.

RES was the world’s largest independent renewable energy company.  It has delivered more than 23GW of renewable energy projects globally and supports an operational asset portfolio exceeding 10GW worldwide for a large client base.

 

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