Queensland commits to 50% renewable target by 2030

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The new Labor government in Queensland has confirmed its commitment to generating 50 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, and to ensure that one million of its homes had rooftop solar by 2020.Qld energy minister

The plans were outlined in Labor’s pre-election policy release, although there were some concern that these were the aspirations of a party that expected to remain in Opposition.

However, Mark Bailey, the new energy minister, told RenewEconomy that the government is determined to reach those targets, and is establishing a state-based Productivity Commission to provide a policy pathway to get there.

“Renewable energy has long since stopped being a fringe issue, now is the time for Queensland to make this happen,” Bailey said before a speech at the Australian Solar Conference in Melbourne.

The commitment by Queensland means that all three Labor states are looking to ambitious renewable energy targets, in contrast with the Federal government which is looking to cut the target for large-scale renewables to 33,000GWh, and now threatens to continue policy uncertainty by calling for yet another review.

South Australia has a 50 per cent target by 2025, although that ambition seems tame given that it is already above 40 per cent now. It says that target is dependent on federal policies.

Victoria is looking to establish it own renewable energy target, just as it did a decade ago when the then MRET was scrapped by then and current industry minister Ian Macfarlane, but cannot do so because recent legislation prevents it from having a state-based scheme.

The alternative is to copy the example of the ACT government, which has a 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, and hold “reverse auctions” and so-called contracts for difference to commission extra renewable energy capacity.

Bailey says the government has already committed to an auction of 40MW of solar capacity, although it has yet to set a date. And it hasn’t yet worked out the mechanism to get to its longer term target.

Queensland currently has little large-scale renewable energy capacity, apart from a series of biomass plants using sugar cane waste as feedstock.

A 44MW solar thermal “booster” plant is being added to the Kogan Creek gas plant, and a 3.2MW solar facility at Gatton is the biggest solar PV in the state.

Earlier this week Bloomberg New Energy Finance said up to 2,600MW of large-scale solar could be built in Australia – even in a much reduced renewable energy target – with much of it being built in Queensland. That’s because Queensland is the only state with a rising demand profile, due to its energy hungry LNG plants.

Several large-scale solar plants have been proposed in the state, along with the large Mt Emerald wind farm in the north of the state.

Bailey said the government also wanted to lift the number of households with rooftop solar from its current levels of more than 400,000 to one million by 2020.

The Newman government sought to demonise rooftop solar as the plaything of “champagne sippers” and “latte drinkers”, but Bailey said the Labor government would have a different attitude.

The government wanted to ensure that households got a fair price of solar, that reflected the benefits and the costs of the technology. Those benefits would be increased by the addition of battery storage – at grid and household level – because of its ability to stabilise the grid and accommodate more renewables.

“Energy storage will change the energy landscape,” Bailey said.  

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  • Lachlan Ennis

    This is awesome news! Have they stated how they are going to achieve it?

    • Jacob

      By banning perfectly safe products as governments usually do.

      • Steve159

        “By banning perfectly safe products” … coal, gas.

        Just checking in, what planet are we on again?

        • Jacob

          High flow showers that clean your body properly. How smelly are trains these days?

  • Blind Freddy of Cairns

    Yahoo solar! Looking forward to the FIT review!

  • Cheryl T

    I am impress and surprised. But also want to add a BIG Thank You to this government. Great to see they are open minded to new technology and the future benefits it holds on every account.

  • Glen S

    A refreshing bit of news. Now all we need them to do is abandon the Carmichael project and stop the clearing of tens of thousands of hectares of land in Northern Queensland.

  • Rob G

    Nice to see progressive governments in power. I cannot see the federal government helping VIC with their VRET, so it will be interesting to see how they get around them.
    There is a feeling that there will also be a break point for the desperate clinging on by coal. A point when fighting is no longer possible because renewables are too entrenched. Given the panic and hostility of the Abbott government you know that we are getting to that point. With progressive governments in action the coal grip is loosening.

  • Ron Horgan


  • Ken Dyer

    The Sunshine Coast is leading the way

    Good on you Queensland, but you may have to revise the target upwards sooner than you think!

  • Evan A

    Lots of grand pronouncing but not much meat on the bone. If the basic economics is already there despite the previous lots attempts to stymie, the only role I see for gov is to get out of the way: set a fair FIT, invest in grid upgrades to accommodate more variable, decentralised sources, negotiate national/international standards for DC wiring, create legal framework for landlords to bill from the meter etc, Setting a timeframe to decommision all the coal plants would be more impressive than promising the inevitable.

  • Jason

    This is such a change. ..let’s see the details but relishing the refreshing message

  • john

    Do the figures for rooftop solar.
    If a house has a decent north roof mind lots do not because they were built by developers who have no clue about how to build a house.
    So if the house has a decent amount of roof roughly north in aspect then you can provided you have at least 10 by 4 meters in that direction be able to put at least a 5 kw system on the roof.
    Provided no one else connected to the transformer has already put PV on their roof you may be able to do this.
    The outcome will be producing about 8000kw of power now depending on your home use during the day this may equate to about 25% home use and 75% Export, which do the figures at your cost of energy means you have made an investment that returns you about 10% or better.

    • Minerva

      john, it’s even better than that. We put in a 5kw system in September 2014, 3kw west and 2kw east facing as our 60 year old house had no north facing roof . We have produced over 5000kw of power and are using most of it. Our rate of return closer to 30%. Brilliant.

      • john

        You must be in southern Qld or NSW to get those figures
        Because you use most of it your return is so much better.
        Good North facing north roof would put out 8500 Kw for a year
        It is good your outcome has been positive congratulations.

  • Ben Singh

    wat is the scope of doing this?