Queensland urged to unlock $36bn renewable investment boom in lead-up to election | RenewEconomy

Queensland urged to unlock $36bn renewable investment boom in lead-up to election

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Solar Citizens calls on Queensland government to embrace wind and solar to unlock more than 50,000 new jobs and take the state past 90% renewables.

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Queensland could unlock tens of thousands of new jobs and billions in investment by breaking down the barriers to new wind and solar investment, new analysis of the clean energy investment pipeline has shown.

Analysis completed by Green Energy Markets and commissioned by Solar Citizens estimated that if all of the proposed clean energy projects in the investment pipeline went ahead, it would create a $36 billion investment boom for Queensland.

The projects in the investment pipeline would also create more than 51,000 new jobs in Queensland and would take the state to more than 90 per cent renewable energy penetration.

Solar Citizens national director Ellen Roberts said that the analysis showed there was immense potential for renewable energy investment to provide timely economic stimulus for Queensland, that would deliver lasting benefits.

With the next Queensland election scheduled for October, Solar Citizens has called on the state government to embrace renewables and to breakdown the barriers to further investment.

“These clean energy projects would present ongoing job opportunities for regional Queenslanders and could play a key role in boosting the struggling economy,” Roberts said.

“But new renewable projects are facing mountains of hurdles and developers are saying to us, ‘we’re looking down south,’ because the incentives are just not here to bring the projects to Queensland.”

Solar Citizens said that the state government should look to invest in new enabling infrastructure, including new transmission network infrastructure, to support further growth of Queensland’s wind and solar industries.

“The state government needs to support 1-2GW of new renewable energy generation each year for the next five years to maintain a strong jobs and investment pipeline for Queenslanders,” Roberts added.

“We’d also like to see the government fast-track key transmission projects that will unlock more clean energy potential across the state.

“The projects in the pipeline now could be just the beginning. Queensland can have a bright economic future using cheap renewable energy resources to power advanced manufacturing and create a new export industry.”

Recent opinion polling suggests that Queensland’s Palaszczuk Labor government faces a tough contest to win re-election in October. Queensland has fixed government terms, and so the election is already scheduled for 31 October, which may take place by postal vote if Covid-19 restrictions remain in place.

While Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has received a boost in approval ratings reflecting the state’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, the size of the boost for the Queensland leader lags behind those of other state premiers.

The recent resignation of deputy premier Jackie Trad will also complicate matters for the Queensland Labor government and will face stiff competition from the Greens in Trad’s South Brisbane electorate in October.

Solar Citizens pointed to the collapse in new renewable energy project commitments over the last year, due to ongoing climate and energy policy uncertainty, as well as emerging challenges to the connection of new projects to the grid.

Green Energy Markets analysis previously published by RenewEconomy detailed how new project finance commitments in Queensland crashed from around 700MW of new capacity in 2018, to just 29MW in 2019.

The implication of this crash was that construction jobs in large-scale wind and solar projects were set to virtually disappear by the middle of 2020.

Several Queensland wind and solar projects have faced delays to grid connection, or have been forced to curtail output, due to emerging system strength issues.

To help find a long-term solution to Queensland’s system strength issues, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency recently committed $490,000 to fund a Powerlink study into Queensland system strength troubles.

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