Queensland: a “Clean energy power house”

In seven weeks Queensland’s CleanCo, established by the state government to provide clean energy at a competitive price, will commence trading in the National Energy Market. It’s part of the “heavy lifting” being carried out by the state in the absence of federal policy leadership, said Energy Minister Anthony Lynham at the Queensland Smart Energy conference in Brisbane this week.

CleanCo was established by the Queensland government under its $1.16 billion Powering Queensland plan in order to “Respond to the short and long term challenges posed by our energy industry and help us reach our 50 per cent renewables target by 2030,” said the Minister whose government has committed $250 million to new renewable energy projects.

The mandate of the publicly owned entity is to deliver on four key objectives: affordability (to reduce wholesale electricity prices especially in peak hours), reliability and security, jobs and sustainability through 1000 MW of new renewable energy projects by 2025 projects - mostly in the regions - and to contribute to Queensland’s 50 per cent renewables target by 2030.

Interim chief executive Miles George explained CleanCo would drive the Queensland Government’s Renewables 400 Program designed to deliver up to 400 MW of new renewable energy and storage projects in Queensland.

The first stage of the program attracted a very strong response from a wide range of proponents interested in investing in Queensland’s renewable energy supply.

“Our project team is now working with the shortlisted proponents to progress the next stage of the program for the submission of binding bids and the final selection of successful projects and proponents will be made in early 2020,” he said.

“Ownership trading and dispatch rights for our foundation assets include the Wivenhoe pumped storage hydro power station, Swanbank E gas power station, and the three Far Northern Queensland hydro stations -including Kareeya, Barron Gorge and Koombooloomba,” George explained.

“Ownership of these assets will be transferred from CS Energy and Stanwell to CleanCo on 31 October 2019, when we commence trading.”

Energy Minister Lynham outlined how Queensland has maintained momentum in the lead up to a renewables-rich future, with the government completing 1700 MW projects, creating 3600 jobs and investing $3.5 billion. Jobs in renewable energy have doubled since 2017.

“The state’s 300 MW of solar target was met in 2018, two years early, under the Solar 150 program, he said. “Queensland also leads in small scale production, with six of the nation’s top ten postcodes for rooftop PV, and the government has provided more than 4000 loans for solar and storage installations.”

He also addressed the potential for wind in the region, saying 3000 MW of wind represented an investment of $6 billion and that the operation and maintenance of large-scale wind turbines would keep many Queenslanders employed.

In May this year the Queensland Government released its hydrogen strategy, underpinned by a $15 million industry development fund to support companies to develop hydrogen projects.

Last week Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared Townsville had the “biggest opportunity” to join Gladstone as a hydrogen producer.

Speaking at a business and civic leaders at a Townsville Enterprise breakfast she said “The world is moving towards hydrogen, and there are two key centres that they’re talking about as being potential for export hubs… Gladstone and the biggest opportunity for the second one is Townsville.”

State Development Minister Cameron Dick added “A viable hydrogen export industry requires three things: ample capacity to produce renewable energy, access to water, and a deep-water port for shipping, and Townsville has all three.”

Attilio Pigneri of The Hydrogen Utility also addressed the potential for hydrogen in North Queensland at this week’s Smart Energy conference in Brisbane.