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Queensland wants “huge renewables hub” built near major coal port

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The Queensland government has earmarked one of the state’s major coal centres as a future renewable energy hub, calling for expressions of interest to develop up to 450MW of large-scale solar, wind or biofuels on a 1,248 hectare patch near Gladstone.

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In a document published on Thursday, Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) said it was seeking to enter into an agreement with an organisation or consortia that “will act quickly” to develop a large scale solar farm or other renewable energy facility on government-owned land at Aldoga, within the Gladstone State Development area.

Gladstone – which is home to a 1,680MW coal-fired power station, the state’s largest electricity generator – is also known for its shipping port, which is largely used to export Australian coal and, more recently, LNG.

The government’s proposal to build up to 450MW of renewable energy capacity at Aldoga – more than half of the total 719MW currently installed in the state – offers a neat illustration of the shifting momentum in global energy markets, while also supporting the Palaszczuk government’s target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

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MP Glenn Butcher at the Gladstone site

Speaking to reporters at the site, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said the project would transform the region into “Australia’s largest renewable energy patch,” potentially generating power for up to 130,000 homes.

“We intend to turn this into a hub, a huge industry in renewables right here in Gladstone,” Butcher said.

“With this significant project we can put the region on the renewable energy map, creating economic uplift and local jobs,” he added.

“Already there is strong interest from the energy industry with 60 people taking part in an industry sounding forum.”

Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Jackie Trad, said the project had the potential to generate an immense amount of energy, not only for the Gladstone region, but for the entire state.

“The Palaszczuk government knows that renewable energy is incredibly important to the economic future of Queensland and this project will be an integral part of this,” she said.

“Solar, wind or biofuel renewable energies are all possible for this project and we are asking the industry to tell us their ideas for this site.”

Minister for Energy Mark Bailey said the largely flat site was well suited to renewables given its close proximity to a cost effective high-voltage network.

“It has the potential to support 450MW of renewable energy and is located adjacent to Powerlink’s Larcom Creek substation which means we have the ability to connect the project straight into the grid,” he said.

The Aldoga site will be EDQ’s flagship renewable energy project and is part of the government’s Advancing Our Cities and Regions Strategy, which aims to renew and repurpose underutilised state land to generate jobs, and drive economic growth.

Expressions of interest can be lodged here, and will close on 24 May 2017.  

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  • George Darroch

    I expect history to deliver a harsh judgement on the Palaszczuk Government. This will go some small way to mitigating that.

    • Rod

      I was googling yesterday to find out who was responsible for the QLD LNG debacle. Apparently Anna Bligh gave it the tick. Saw her on the box last night on some banking inquiry gig. Unfortunately they are never punished for their stupidity.

      • Jonathan Prendergast

        What is the role of government in approving or giving ‘ticks’ to private investments?

        I think there is a bigger issue than State planning approval. And that is the lack of energy planning, setting the objectives in favour of the community unwillingness to act to prevent market failures. Too much of a hands off approach.

        As has been pointed out by others, exporting gas has made other countries billions, while it will send us broke at this rate.

        • Rod

          I know little Johnny was in charge when the NW shelf was given the tick. I’m not sure which colour team was in power at the Fed level when the QLD LNG was.
          My point is, this seems to be forgotten and those in charge in the moment wear the flak. Labor in SA (and renewables) are being blamed for high electricity prices whereas the blame should lie elsewhere.
          Yes we have all seen this coming but as individuals or communities, have little say. At least Iraq put up a bit of a fight before being pillaged by Halliburton but we are bending over and asking for more.

        • Coley

          ‘Us’ you mean the ordinary voter? the politicians and energy ‘top brass’ will always be laughing all the way to the bank.
          Before selling said bank to some Asian conglomerate.

      • Brian Tehan

        I think that allowing so many companies to set up liquefaction facilities and sign export deals for gas coming from four states on the east coast would have to be a federal responsibility. In fact, the federal government was warned about the consequences of connecting the domestic gas supply (from Victoria, mostly and also SA) up to the export facility a long time ago and both parties ignored it. It’s gone live during this government’s term though. For more info, see Michael West’s (ex Fairafx) site.

      • Coley

        They ain’t stupid! greedy, dishonest, experts at the revolving door, total bastards, call em what you want, but never make the mistake of thinking of them as ‘stupid’
        However those that vote for them………..?

  • Gordon Bossley

    Maybe this new plant could power the coal-loader 🙂 ?

    • D. John Hunwick

      This proposal is being put to obscure the commitment to Adani. It is a con. It should only be acceptable AFTER the coal mine is dead and buried. One does not balance out the other. Adani must be vigorously opposed and the Queensland Government vilified for its support. Otherwise this sop to renewable energy will be nullified by the extreme GHG emissions resulting from the mine.

  • Mark Roest

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US said that 6 hours of storage is the sweet spot for utility-scale solar. 450 MW of solar would correspond to 2,700 MWh of storage, which would cost $270 million US at $100/kWh, which should be available by 2020 or sooner. It would be roughly comparable with the cost of the solar, and would increase the value of the solar to the utility by 30% to 50% — maybe more — on a non-emergency basis. In emergencies, and when the generators want to play games to steal windfall profits, it could eventually be worth far more, if it were available for backing up other utilities as well.