Renewable energy investors have “flooded” the Queensland government with expressions of interest in building out the state’s renewable energy zones, putting forward proposals for enough projects to create 60,000 megawatts of clean energy..
The Queensland Labor government put out the call for new renewable energy generation and storage projects in early September, in a first formal step towards unlocking the state’s newly designated renewable energy zones – a vital ingredient for achieving the target of 50% renewables by 2030.
State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Parliament at the time that registrations of interest would open for two weeks for potential projects to start building the three REZs, in North Queensland, Central Queensland and South West Queensland.
In a statement on Friday, the Premier said the response had “shattered expectations,” delivering expressions of interest for just shy of 200 projects that would support more than $93.7 billion investment if all of them were developed.
“We’ve had expressions of interest for a further 192 projects that will charge up our state’s economic recovery, creating up to 57,000 jobs in the process,” Palaszczuk said.
The government said the projects proposed ranged across a mix of clean energy generation technologies including solar PV, wind, and biomass and included a number of potential storage technologies such as utility-scale batteries.
“Importantly, we are putting $145 million on the table to fund transmission infrastructure, making it easier for renewable projects to connect to the National Electricity Market, encouraging even more investment,” Palaszczuk said on Friday.
“This builds on my government’s investment of $500 million into cleaner, cheaper electricity, which will continue to drive down power prices for industry and homeowners,” she said.
The state’s new energy minister – and Australia’s first official minister for hydrogen – Mick de Brenni said the government would now get to the task of shortlisting and approving projects and would favour those that delivered the most benefit for Queenslanders.
De Brenni said the most popular REZ had proven to be the southern zone covering the Darling Downs, with 72 “strong expressions of interest,” reflecting the region’s growing opportunities in sustainable agriculture and ecotourism.
“Between Cairns and Townsville, our initiative has attracted strong interest from a variety of projects which will support the growing demand for new economy minerals extraction and processing, that are critical to the components required in the renewable and technology sectors,” the minister said.
“While around Longreach and Rockhampton we’ve attracted expressions of interest from 67 projects, creating significant opportunities to enable growth in the state’s renewable hydrogen development.
De Brenni stressed that energy storage would play an important role in the state’s low emissions future, offering the ability to dispatch clean energy on demand.
“The next steps in cementing these zones will be progressed during 2021 with a priority on investments that focus on Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID-19,” he said.
“Queensland is already generating 20 per cent of our electricity from renewable resources, and our investment in the renewable energy zones means we can add this clean energy to our electricity grid.”