Queensland could shift to an electricity system powered entirely by renewable energy sources within the next 15 years, with most of the necessary projects already in the development pipeline, a new analysis has found.
The Queensland Conservation Council commissioned analysis from consultancy Green Energy Markets, which details how it would be possible to transition Queensland to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
The findings were released as part of its ‘Power Up Queensland‘ vision ahead of the Queensland state election to be held at the end of October, with thousands of jobs set to be created and more than enough capacity already being developed across solar, wind, bioenergy and storage projects.
“Queensland actually has a multitude of options for how it might achieve 100% renewable and reliable and affordable electricity supply.” Green Energy Markets’ Tristan Edis said.
The modelling suggests that Queensland could meet its electricity needs with mostly wind and solar power, supplemented by energy storage and biomass generation and that Queensland mostly already had more than enough capacity in the project development pipeline to shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Based on analysis by UNSW researcher Dr Ben Elliston, Queensland would require around 16,500MW of solar capacity, spread across new rooftop solar systems, large-scale PV projects and solar thermal developments combined with energy storage. An additional 11,800MW of wind generation would be necessary, along with 3,300MW of biomass generation capacity.
Queensland would also draw upon a 2,000MW interconnector with New South Wales, with an increase in interconnector capacity to 2,372MW already having been flagged under AEMO’s Integrated System Plan.
According to the analysis by Green Energy Markets, Queensland was already on track to build new renewable energy capacity to hit most of these milestones, but more support would be needed to bring new solar thermal projects to the market, with the technology currently lagging behind solar PV uptake. Solar thermal, when combined with storage, has the potential to deliver continuous output over a full 24-hour period.
However, the analysis also confirmed that if viable solar thermal plants were unable to be developed, that the gap could be met by a combination of hydroelectric and battery storage projects, providing an alternate pathway to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Some expansion to the generation capacity of bioenergy plants would also be required, but the analysis found that Queensland was already producing enough biomass fuel to fulfil its role within a 100 per cent renewable electricity system.
“Understandably though many in the community want more than a mathematical model to give them confidence that 100% renewable energy is possible. They’d like to understand what would need to happen with on the ground examples to deliver on what a mathematical model says is possible. This report is intended to help do precisely that,” the Green Energy Markets report says.
“It turns out that people and companies have already laid out the set of projects that come very close to delivering on what Dr Elliston assessed would be required for Queensland to achieve reliable electricity with net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”
The analysis showed that a shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity would support new investment across virtually all parts of Queensland, including regional areas, with the analysis estimating that more than 140,000 job-years would be created during the construction of a 100 per cent renewable electricity system.
Almost 11,000 additional jobs would be created on an on-going basis, with roles created in the operation and maintenance of renewable energy projects.
The Queensland Conservation Council said that the report was crucial for demonstrating how Queensland can phase out the use of coal, while also ensuring reliable and affordable power can be supplied to Queensland homes and businesses using clean energy sources.
“We can replace all dirty coal-burning power stations in Queensland with clean energy sources to give us plenty of electricity, at the right times, in the right place, with stable 24-7 supply,” Queensland Conservation Council campaigner Claire Fryer said.
“A recent report by leading experts, Climate Analytics, found Queensland must stop burning coal for power by 2030 to play our part in keeping global heating to 1.5 Celsius under the UN’s Paris Agreement targets. A rise of more than 1.5C would ‘virtually guarantee the extinction of most of the Great Barrier Reef’.”