Minister talks up green energy hub amid coal plant delay

The Palaszczuk Government is calling for community input on a renewable energy hub near Ipswich after a major coal power plant near Gladstone delayed its return to full capacity until next year.

Mar 09, 2023, updated Mar 09, 2023
Energy Minister Mick de Brenni. (Photo: ABC)

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni. (Photo: ABC)

State-owned CleanCo Queensland has called for input from the community to assess and progress a hub at Swanbank near Ipswich that includes solar power, a 250MW battery and hydrogen.

The hub will be integrated with CleanCo’s Swanbank E gas-fired power station, which already has a capacity of 385MW.

CleanCo chief executive Tom Metcalfe said the project would have an “authentic co-design” which included site restoration, such as an ecological corridor and recreational spaces.

“We will not just be asking: what do you think? but rather, what does the community need and value?’ and how can we collaborate to create the masterplan together and build enduring partnerships?” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“And we are committed to delivering genuine outcomes from this process.

Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said the project was part of a broader plan to meet a target of 70 per cent of energy consumed being provided by renewable sources by 2032, and 80 per cent by 2035.

The announcement comes a day after public-owned generator CS Energy announced a major coal-fired power station won’t be fully operational until January next year.

The company’s 1540MW Callide power station near Biloela, which meets roughly 30 per cent of the state’s electricity demand, has not run at capacity since May 2021.

That was when the plant’s C4 generation unit was destroyed in an explosion, while the C3 unit was taken offline after structure failure caused a collapse of its cooling tower in September.

The C3 unit was due to return to full capacity by September 30, while the C4 unit was due to be fully operational by October 31.

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However, CS said it would delay the return of both units to full capacity so it can rebuild the cooling towers of both units.

The return of C3 had been postponed by six months to December 31, while C4 has been delayed another eight months, meaning Callide won’t have run at full strength for two years and eight months.

The company insists the delay is “not unusual” and depends on issues identified during major repair and maintenance.

The announcement reportedly triggered a leap in wholesale electricity prices bringing fresh uncertainty about whether those prices would be passed onto household consumers and businesses.

De Brenni has previously stressed the state has enough generation capacity to meet demand with Callide running at reduced capacity.


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