The Queensland Labor government has put out the call for new renewable energy generation and storage projects in a first formal step towards unlocking the state’s newly designated renewable energy zones.
State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Parliament on Thursday that registrations of interest had opened for two weeks for potential projects to start building the three REZs, in North Queensland, Central Queensland and South West Queensland.
The call to investors follows the announcement on Monday of a $500 million Renewable Energy Fund to allow state-owned energy corporations to increase public ownership of both commercial renewable projects and supporting infrastructure.
State energy minister Anthony Lynham said the energy zones, alongside the $500 million fund, would drive the next phase of renewable energy investment in Queensland, which in turn would drive the state’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
“Since 2015, 41 large-scale renewable energy projects have launched in Queensland, representing around $7.8 billion in investment and 6500 construction jobs.
“I encourage all renewable generators, including wind, solar and green hydro, as well as renewable storage projects to come forward and show how they could play a role in Queensland’s renewable revolution,” he said.
Lynham said responses from existing and new renewable energy proponents would help determine the scale, location, and timing of potential state-funded infrastructure and developments.
“With the right planning, these zones will capitalise on existing projects, make the most of projects already in the pipeline and attract new investment,” he said.
“Through the Renewable Energy Fund we’re going to get more projects through the vital investment decision phase, and with the zones we’re going to help ensure those projects are working together to deliver a series of connected commercial and industrial power hubs across the state.”
The REZs include the Southern Zone, which the government says will focus renewables solutions for the agricultural and mining and resources sector.
The Central Zone – with strong network infrastructure and wind and solar resources – will likely focus on opportunities in industries, while the Northern Zone – with some of the strongest wind and solar resources in the state – offers the most significant potential for new renewables development, the government says.
The call to investors, issued during the 2020 virtual Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition, was welcomed by the Smart Energy Council as “exactly the sorts of initiatives” needed to drive renewables growth and meet Queensland’s 50% by 2030 renewables target.
“The Palaszczuk government continues to be a national leader in embracing renewables, unlocking investment, delivering jobs in regional communities and building new industries,” said SEC CEO John Grimes.