Queensland must embrace its super solar potential: Flannery

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Climate commissioner describes Queensland as a renewables ‘super state,’ as report highlights state’s solar thermal potential, and climate vulnerability.

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Australia’s chief climate commissioner, Tim Flannery, has called for Queensland to embrace the opportunities that come with taking action against dangerous climate change, describing it as a renewable energy “super state.”

“Queensland is a bit of an energy super state,” Professor Flannery told AAP, ahead of the launch on Tuesday of the climate commission’s latest report – an examination of the impact of global warming on Queensland.

The report reveals that the state’s solar energy output has doubled over the past two years – giving it the largest installed solar PV capacity in Australia at over 475MW – and points to its huge potential for large-scale concentrated solar thermal generation.

“Queensland receives significant direct (as opposed to diffuse) sunlight, making CST an efficient method to generate electricity,” the report says, adding that the state experiences levels of radiation comparable to solar thermal generation sites in the US and Spain.

The report’s findings come hot on the heels of Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s latest round of budgetary slashing, which – as Giles wrote here two weeks ago – reads like a scoreboard of clean energy, and particularly solar, victims.

Having slashed the state’s solar feed-in tariff and abandoned its commitment to the Solar Bonus scheme in July, the Queensland Coalition government made a raft of cutbacks earlier this month, effectively ending its contribution to the Solar Falgships project, and shutting down the Solar Initiatives Package, the Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme, the Solar Atlas, the Cloncurry Solar Thermal Trial Site Remediation and a separate Solar PV Farm. The Wide Bay Community Solar Farm has been deferred.

Newman’s apparent aversion to green energy (and to the science of global warming, for that matter) is unfortunate, especially in a state that, as the climate commission report also points out, has a lot to lose if the causes and effects of climate change are not reigned in.

As Flannery points out, the report shows Queensland has “significant vulnerabilities” when it comes to sea-level rises, with around 85 per cent of the population living near the coast, and experts predicting global sea level to rise 50 to 100cm by 2100.

The Gold Coast alone has 4000 residential homes “at risk” within 110 metres of erodable coastline. “We are seeing the impacts already on those communities,” Flannery said.

The report also highlights the threat posed to the state’s highly-valued “natural capital: the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforests.

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