The Queensland government has attacked the LNP opposition and the Murdoch media for unfounded, baseless and “lazy” criticism of its plans to source 50 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030.
The conservative LNP has been getting a big run in the Murdoch press with a new anti-renewables campaign, which has wound up significantly since the start of the year with a host of new solar projects that will add 1GW of solar power to the state’s grid.
But Bailey wondered why the LNP hadn’t even bothered to make a submission to the government’s renewable energy review that it attacks so much. In total, 2,300 submissions were received, but none from the LNP or any of its MPs.
“Once again, all we’re hearing is anti-renewables doom and gloom, but of the 2023 submissions received by the Independent Panel following their public forums across the state, not one of them was from the LNP,” he said.
“On the leash of their Canberra mates, they run around the state, scaremongering and threatening to scrap Queensland’s RET if elected, but they were too lazy to do the work – to make a submission where it actually counts.
The LNP, in recent days, have been trying to make much of a report in The Australian which breathlessly announced in an “exclusive” story on its front page on Monday that it had acquired a “leaked” copy of an Australian Energy Market Operator submission into the Queensland government plans.
That so-called “leaked” document, Bailey pointed out, had actually been sitting on the AEMO website – for all to see – since November last year. This was confirmed by AEMO.
And while AEMO had warned that coal generators in Queensland may close earlier than expected, a line that the Murdoch media was keen to play up (it even wrote a follow-up story and an editorial the following day), Bailey pointed out that these generators were young, and most importantly, mostly government-owned.
That means that the Queensland government will not be in the same position as South Australia, which has had to watch with growing frustration as the private owners of the biggest gas plants in the state decide not to switch on during high demand periods, claiming they can find no economic incentive to help keep the lights on for their customers.
On the subject of South Australia, premier Jay Weatherill said the state had no intention of rowing back on its 2025 target of 50 per cent renewables, saying to do so it would have to effectively “physically prevent” developments in their tracks.
That much is true, because the build-out of the Hornsdale wind farm and the Tailem Bend solar project will take the state to 50 per cent wind and solar by the end of this year.
Weatherill says the biggest threat to power prices in South Australia is the lack of competition among generators, something that can addressed by having more renewable energy and other technologies such as battery storage.
Weatherill says the state will “soon” release” its planned intervention to ensure that no more rolling stoppages occur – as they did last month – while some gas generators sit idle. From that point of view, he must envy Queensland’s ownership of power generators.
Back in Queensland, Bailey also said Queensland has a high amount of (mostly government-owned) flexible gas-fired generation, which enables the system to ramp up quickly.
He said the government had confidence in the modelling, and in its conclusions that it would be broadly cost neutral to electricity consumers, and would not affect reliability.
Bailey also said the Palaszczuk Government is committed to transitioning to a clean energy future gradually and sustainably, while keeping affordability and network reliability front and centre.
“We’ve kick-started a renewable energy boom with more than 1GW of privately funded renewable energy projects currently in the works delivering more than $2 billion of new investment to Queensland and more than 1900 direct jobs, mostly in our regions,” he said.
“Energy is undergoing a transformational change in the way it is generated, transported and used – the former LNP government did nothing to prepare for this.
“Importantly, the benefits of the RET to the Queensland economy, particularly in regional areas will be largely driven by the additional $6 billion investment in renewable energy, and a projected increase of around 6,400-6,700 jobs per year on average between 2020 and 2030.
“The anti-renewables LNP have no credibility on energy policy. They oversaw the loss of 1300 renewable industry jobs while in government and inflicted 43 per cent electricity price hikes on consumers.”