Enormous potential, easily distracted, must try harder. A “report card” assessing the Queensland Labor government’s progress on its renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030 has given the state a dismal mark of C-, and says it is “not on track” to meet the goal set back in 2016.
The report card from Solar Citizens finds the Sunshine state lagging behind on all measures of its renewable energy goal, including – remarkably – rooftop solar, which fell just short of its 2020 target of 3GW.
Of greater concern, however, is a lull in the development large-scale renewables projects, which last year prompted Green Energy Markets analyst Tristan Edis to describe Queensland as “almost dropped off the planet” in terms of big solar and wind commitments and power purchase agreements.
The lull has been blamed on a mix of issues, including significant downgrades in marginal loss factors and strict new connection and commissioning guidelines that are causing lengthy delays and major cost over-runs for projects in the development pipeline.
Just this week, Windlab conceded that its troubled Kennedy Energy Project – being developed in the state’s north – would likely suffer a $10 to $20 million write-down because of delays in commissioning that have now run for more than a year.
But the over-arching problem, as summed up by David Leitch in April last year, is that Queensland needs to roll out about 700MW new renewable energy every single year to make 50 per cent by 2030, and there is next to no state government policy to steer that kind of growth.
“Sadly the Queensland government is barely scraping a pass on their renewable energy report card, because they’re not on track to achieve their aim of 50% renewable energy by 2030,” said Solar Citizens national director Ellen Roberts, nearly a year later.
The report card marks the state government down for having no plan for meeting the 2030 goal, no plan for the delivery of 1GW of renewable generation by 2025 via its purpose-built investment vehicle CleanCo, and no sign of the state’s 400MW reverse auction, which is now running two years behind schedule.
CleanCo was set up by the Queensland government as a third state-owned generator to hold the state’s existing “clean” energy assets and commission another 1,000MW – by 2025.
At this stage, any new announcement would be a welcome development for the industry, after the ill-explained go-slow on the RE400 auction, the failed state government bid to change large-scale solar installation standards, and the sluggishness of under-resourced and under-motivated state-owned networks.
“Labor are certainly ahead of the LNP, who have made some topline statements but don’t support a planned transition to clean, renewable energy. But Labor need to turn their policies on paper into real action on the ground,” said Roberts.
“The Queensland government can turn this around, but they need to do this quickly to avoid renewable investment flowing to other states that have better support for renewable energy.
“Queensland is a world leader when it comes to rooftop solar. Queenslanders are doing their bit, and now it’s time for the government to support investment and jobs in clean energy.”