The abundance of low cost renewable energy and investment in new clean manufacturing industries could drive a massive re-industrialisation of the Australian economy, according to the Queensland minister tasked with overseeing such a transformation in the state.
Speaking to the Queensland Smart Energy Summit on Tuesday, the Queensland minister for renewable energy and hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said that the Palaszczuk government was proactively investing in new clean energy projects to revitalise manufacturing in Queensland.
“We have an opportunity to drive real economic growth, drive it through clean energy ecosystems, ones that are self-perpetuating, with affordable clean energy growing Queensland manufacturing,” de Brenni said.
“Now, that’s going to help ensure that we have a thriving industrial sector, in turn, boosting energy demand that will deliver through renewable energy.”
“If we’re talking about smart energy, what we need to do is reshape our approach to renewable supply chain procurement. It means government working with industry to drive new value chains as we build industry. It means ensuring that the components required to build solar panels, to build all the wind towers, to build the electrolysers, that we are building those here domestically.”
The Queensland government has recently committed a significant amount of funding to support the creation of new renewable energy zones in the state – as it looks to achieve a target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030. This includes the creation of a $2 billion Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund.
That fund will be accessible by state government owned corporations to actively invest in new clean energy projects and an expansion of the resources sector focused on materials needed for the production of clean technologies like batteries, electric vehicles and solar panels.
De Brenni told the summit that he had been tasked by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to develop a ‘ten year energy’ plan for the state, that would enable that return of industry.
“The premier of Queensland has commissioned me to develop a 10 year energy plan for Queensland now a plan that will focus on addressing the big challenges around cost effectiveness and reliability,” de Brenni said.
“The challenges of how to create enough space in the grid to enable all of our renewable energy opportunities for us to tackle a clear plan, a clear plan about that reindustrialization agenda, the new jobs, what can we accelerate through decarbonisation.”
De Brenni said that the growth of lower cost supplies of renewable energy had the potential to support the establishment of new manufacturing industries in Queensland, as well as ensuring the state had the ability to capture the market for value-adding industries, particularly in the processing of materials and the manufacture of components used in clean energy technologies.
“The state that I live in is rich in the resources that go into the manufacture of those things like that wind towers and the blades for turbines,” de Brenni said. “But we’ve been sourcing them offshore. Now, if we are really talking about smart energy, the smart thing to do would be to manufacture those components here, to re-industrialise our nation through and renewable energy.”
“That is the big part of the jobs opportunity for our state.”
De Brenni cited examples that included the commitment by the Queensland government-owned Stanwell Corporation to build a 3,00MW renewable hydrogen production facility just outside of Gladstone. The venture recently secured land to host the facility, which is being developed in partnership with the Japan-based Iwatani Corporation.
The minister stressed that the Queensland government had focused on the development of renewable hydrogen, questioning whether there would ever be a meaningful international market for hydrogen produced through fossil fuels.
“In Queensland, our hydrogen production to energy will be powered by renewable wind and solar energy because, quite frankly, there isn’t really a domestic or international market for energy produced by anything else. So we’re committed to a low emission, ethically produced, hydrogen supply chain,” de Brenni said.
De Brenni used the online summit to announced that Queensland would be joining the Smart Energy Council’s renewable hydrogen certification scheme – following both the Victorian and ACT governments which have earlier signed on to the scheme.
“As a founding partner of the Smart Energy Council’s Zero Carbon Certification Scheme, buyers of Queensland’s hydrogen can choose a product made by electrolysers powered only from renewable energy,” de Brenni said.
“We are sending a very clear message Queensland is serious about decarbonising and that our hydrogen can be produced to the highest environmental standards.”