Premier and Minister for the Olympics Annastacia Palaszczuk, has outlined plans for a major overhaul of Queensland's energy sector, including the creation of the "world's biggest" pumped hydroelectric power plant, and a "super grid" to connect solar, wind, battery and hydrogen generators across the state.
In her announcement on Wednesday, the Premier said Queensland would have "no regular reliance on coal" by 2035 as the state aims to achieve a renewable energy target of 70 per cent by 2032.
The Premier said a new dam in the Pioneer Valley near Mackay will supply half of Queensland's entire energy needs with clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy.
Another hydro pumps would be build at the Burdekin Borumba Dam site by 2035.
It is just one part of a $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan that includes:
This announcement was straight off the back of the Premier's visit to the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone at Cooper's Gap announcing that the publicly owned Stanwell Corporation would build the Tarong West Wind Farm, on Monday.
"This project with up to 150 turbines could generate 500MW capacity, enough clean electricity to power up to 230,000 homes," the Premier said.
"It will also create around 200 jobs during construction and 15 ongoing jobs when operational.
"It's investments like this that will ensure we deliver on our net-zero ambitions and our promise to Queenslanders to become a global renewable energy superpower."
The proposed Tarong West Wind Farm at Ironpot, 30 kilometres south west of Kingaroy, sits within the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone, one of three designated regions established across the state to accelerate clean energy projects.
The Tarong West project, funded from the $2 billion Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs fund, would boost Stanwell's current asset portfolio. Construction will start in 2023 and will be connected the grid by 2024.
The Premier said her overhaul of energy put in place is the visionary plan set Queensland up for the next century.
"This plan is all about cheaper, cleaner and secure energy for Queenslanders," the Premier said.
"It is about turbo-charging new investment in new minerals, batteries and manufacturing.
She said that renewable energy is the cheapest form of new energy.
"This plan makes Queensland the renewable energy capital of the world," she said.
"It also takes real and decisive action on climate change providing the biggest commitment to renewable energy in Australia's history."
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the two new pumped hydro facilities would be bigger than the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme.
"We will use cheap solar electricity during the day to pump water up the mountain to store it. Then at night we can release the water to generate electricity. It's like a giant battery."
Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the Energy and Jobs Plan ensured Queensland's power generators remain in public ownership.
"This has proved vital to investment in cleaner, cheaper energy," the Minister said.
"We will maintain majority public ownership of generation and 100 per cent public ownership of transmission and distribution."
Canegrowers has welcomed Wednesday's announcement by the State Government of a 10-year Energy and Jobs Plan that could see Queensland's sugar industry become one of the state's largest suppliers of renewable energy.
The $62 billion plan includes a $4 million investment to 'work with industry to investigate options and pathways to expand generation from underutilised biomass waste streams and support technology innovation'.
This will support industries, such as the sugarcane industry, to modernise bioenergy generation and use waste products for bioenergy production, the Plan says.
Canegrowers chairman Owen Menkens said the industry was perfectly positioned to become a major player in the state's renewable energy future.
"The sugar industry is already powering regional communities in the Tableland, Burdekin and Mackay with clean, renewable energy, but there is a capacity to dramatically increase the power output of our mills to help Queensland reach the ambitious targets set out by the government," Mr Menkens said.
"This is not only good for the environment, it's also good for the energy market, good for consumers, and it makes our mills more efficient which is good for the industry."
A recent report by the Australian Sugar Milling Council found that Queensland's milling sector had the capacity to almost quadruple its current generation from bagasse from 438MW to 1,736MW.
The Mayor of Banana Shire Council Nev Ferrier today said the Queensland Government's announcement to move the target to 70% by 2032 is understandable in the long-term, but the policy is rushed, and the government has not adequately considered the infrastructure needed to support the plan.
"It's a well-known fact the bridges in the area are not up to code to carry the loads of the blades and other large pieces of equipment required for renewable development," Mr Ferrier said.
"They need to be upgraded or this plan is totally irrelevant."
The Banana Shire holds several large coal mines, and the Callide power station. The Shire is poised to become Queensland's Renewable energy hub, with 21 renewable energy projects currently underway or slated for development in the Shire, but the Mayor says the projects can't be rushed.
"I am all for renewable development in the region but not at the cost of my community and I will be writing to the Energy Minister, Hon Mick De Brinni, to invite him to visit and to express disappointment in our lack of consultation," said Mayor Ferrier.
"I find it a bit surprising our area is paramount to the Energy and Jobs Plan but Minister De Brinni has never visited me here or discussed this with me or my council."
The Lock the Gate Alliance national co-ordinator, Ellen Roberts said they were pleased to see the Palaszczuk Government's increased ambition on the rollout of renewable energy and a vital repowering of the state's coal fired power stations.
"This shows the Palaszczuk Government recognises we are moving towards renewables - which are the cheapest and most reliable form of energy," Ms Roberts said.
"However we are concerned the government plans to subsidise a fossil gas peaking power station, as well as the notorious Bowen Basin gas pipeline. Australia has sufficient gas peaking power stations - we don't need any more.
"The Queensland community doesn't support new, publicly funded gas fired power stations.
"The reality is renewable hydrogen is still a long way off - it's likely this will be fossil gas powered for some time to come.
"Big energy companies like Origin are walking away from building new gas projects because the global outlook is increasingly shaky for fossil gas as the world moves to mitigate the climate crisis.
"Not only is there no future for gas from a climate perspective, but it's also expensive and we don't want to see the Palaszczuk Government locking in high price gas that will mean more costly power bills for Queenslanders.
"The Palaszczuk Government has recognised coal has a finite future, and is doing the right thing investing in renewables. It's time it recognises gas also has a finite future."
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