Union demands halt to new wind and solar projects in Queensland, but it's already happened | RenewEconomy

Union demands halt to new wind and solar projects in Queensland, but it’s already happened

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The influential Electrical Trades Union has demanded that the Queensland government put an immediate halt to all large scale renewable and energy projects until it has put together a “just transition plan” and a detailed energy policy.

The demand from the ETU came just days after the Queensland government celebrated reaching 4GW of solar power in the state (it is actually closer to 5GW), and as it reacted to reports that suggested the 700MW Callide B coal plant could be closed ten years early.

As RenewEconomy reported earlier this week, the closure of Callide B has not been brought forward. Instead, the Australian Energy Market Operator has adjusted a data error in its spreadsheet to reflect the fact that Callide B only ever had a 40-year operating life, rather than a 50-year one.

Still, the ETU’s demand for a halt to all new wind and solar projects is a remarkable one. It says it wants to make sure that regional areas are not adversely affected by the transition to renewables.

It was the ETU that earlier this forced the state government to introduce new legislation that would ostensibly allow only electricians to handle solar modules on large scale projects – a rule that would have effectively ended local employment opportunities on new projects and require developers to fly in electricians from elsewhere. It was overturned by the courts.

In a statement this week, the ETU says a recent meeting of Queensland and Northern Territory delegates called on the Queensland Government to “put an immediate halt to ALL large-scale renewable projects that haven’t as yet commenced construction and to get the Just Transition Authority to present to government a full plan on how the network will adapt and what types of renewables are  needed.”

The union needn’t worry. According to this list of projects sent to Reneweconomy by the energy minister’s office earlier this week, the construction of large scale wind and solar projects in the state has already come to an effective halt.

The Yarranlea solar farm is largely completed and just waiting for formal commissioning, while the Warwick and Brigalow solar farms – which would have been brought to a halt if the ETU demand for “electricians only” had been approved – are half way through construction.

There are no other large scale wind or solar farms that have reached financial commitment in the state, thanks to the lack of any coherent federal policy, new connection hurdles, and a long queue for state government mandates.

Another 10 projects have been short-listed for potential backing by the new CleanCo, the state-owned generator that will focus on renewables and storage, but this is not expected to be decided until the middle of next year.

CleanCo, which begins operations at the end of this month, aims to sponsor about 1,000MW of new wind and solar capacity, but it has until 2025 to reach that target. That compares to the more than 2.5GW of wind and solar that have been built in the last two or three years.

ETU state organiser Jason Young said the union is focused on the “just transition” but was not convinced the government had a clear plan.

“With the whole world screaming for action on climate change this Queensland Government has a real chance to highlight how, when done collaboratively and in conjunction with a proper,” he said in a statement.

“Just transition plan, we can transition to renewable forms of energy and it can be done with minimal impacts on regional jobs and towns.”

  • Woods said the union wanted the government to “put a halt on all planned and proposed large scale renewable energy projects until the Just Transition Authority has the funding, mandate and resources to ensure workers and communities are future-proofed.”

And he wanted CleanCo to identify the scale and scope of investment required ” to provide a responsible, diversified public-owned renewable energy sector that provides jobs and job security where they are needed.”

“We will not allow our members and their communities to be left in the dark when it comes to their jobs and the future of their towns. One thing is for sure, if nothing is done now there will not be a reliable, relatively cheap power network in Queensland within five years.”

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  1. Chris Drongers 6 months ago

    The dinosaurs come in all shapes and not all are fossilized around Winton.

  2. Chris Drongers 6 months ago

    There are optimists and pessimists. An optimist sees renewables as growing new projects, new, jobs, safer and more pleasant jobs in building, rigging, repairing, maintaining solar and wind generators than digging coal, cleaning boilers and welding rusted high pressure steam pipes. A pessimist sees only boiler cleaners’ jobs disappearing but regards those dirty jobs as more valuable than the lungs and skins of blue collar workers in dirty environments.

  3. Glynn Palmer 6 months ago

    The political donors have given their directions to their servants.

  4. MrMauricio 6 months ago

    Its Queenslad-dumb one day,dumber the next!!!..New projects will provide heaps more local employment opportunities.As always jobs follow the investment.Electricity companies will invest in the cheapest sources of electrons-thats renewable energy,in the most economic locations,it will be decentralised. Trying to force electricity companies hang on to old obsolete inefficient generators is losing pool BIG TIME.Trying to force the government to stall the approval process for replacement capacity is stupid beyond belief,and will cost the state investment and jobs Other states in the NEM will end up supplying your electricity and you will be left with industrial museums a lot of unemplyed people and expensive electricity with all the cost disadvantages that will bring.

  5. Craig Fryer 6 months ago

    They want regional jobs. Well don’t think anyone is planning to build a wind farm in the middle of Brisbane or Surfers Paradise. All the large scale renewable developments are in regional areas.

    It isn’t the Federal Government that has stopped RE development in QLD, it is the QLD Government and their coal generators sending prices negative when they should be turning down their coal and gas generators. Of course the Federal Government isn’t helping, but SA and Victoria are moving forward despite the Federal Government.

  6. WR 6 months ago

    People working in fossil fuels have had 30 years to find new jobs. This is just another cash grab by the fossil fuel lobby that the ETU apparently represents.

  7. George Darroch 6 months ago

    The powerful ETU are destroying renewable energy in Queensland.

    That’s NSW’s gain, and the people of Queensland will be worse off indefinitely.

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