A report has emerged saying that renewable energy projects in QLD would outperform coal projects, if approved, as renewables aim for a 50% share of the energy mix by 2050.
The numbers come from the Australian Conservation Foundation, who says that Queensland would be able to outperform energy outputs of coal with its proposed solar, wind and hydroelectric projects.
The ACF says in the same report that renewable energy is set to power more than a third of Queensland’s total electricity network by 2025.
“Those projects are capable of producing substantially more power than what is produced from gas and coal in Queensland, so it’s quite extraordinary, really,” lead author of the report, Tristan Edis has said.
Mr Edis created a list of current proposals for renewable energy projects in Queensland, and has since said that while “renewables represent less than five per cent of power supply over the prior decade, since 2015 it’s going to rise from seven per cent to 35 per cent of Queensland power supply by 2025.”
The majority of Queensland’s renewable energy growth can be attributed to two major projects that are expected to be completed by the middle of the decade. The first, a large wind farm near Warwick called the Macintyre wind farm, as well as the Western Downs solar farm.
Mr Edis explained that “we shouldn’t be setting our sights just on producing power for our own needs, we can actually help reduce carbon pollution around the world because Queensland has some of the best solar resources in the world, and they also have some pretty good wind.”
The lead author of the report added that Queensland should invest in researching the possibility of becoming an energy exporter, considering its aforementioned advantages when it comes to renewable energy.
“We need to find a way to convert this renewable electricity into either hydrogen, which can be exported, or into setting up new metal smelters that can convert that electricity into metal and then export those metals overseas.”
Making moves in line with this suggestion would create around 9,000 new jobs for mechanics, truck drivers, engineers and electricians, according to the report.
“It could be a significant employer, and that would last a very long time,” Edis added.
The ACF’s climate and energy campaigner, Jason Lyddieth has said that Queensland should aim for higher renewable energy targets, stating that “at the moment, every state has ambitious renewable targets and a lot of them are more ambitious than Queensland.”
“South Australia is going for 100 per cent, Tasmania wants to go for 200 per cent,” he said, adding that “if we don’t get going ourselves, then we’ll find that we’re lagging behind other states while they’re getting into renewable energy.”
Queensland’s Energy Minister, Anthony Lynham has said previously that “renewables have grown under this Government from next to nothing to a projected 20 per cent by the end of this year.”
“The next phase is to achieve 50 per cent renewables by 2030,” Lynham added.
Queensland’s current trajectory, however, looks to fall short of that 50% renewable energy target by 2030. According to the ACF’s report, Queensland is expected to hit a 38 per cent renewable energy share of the market, 12% below its target.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government will continue to back our renewable energy revolution because it is helping cut power prices, cut emissions, and supporting jobs and economic recovery,” the Energy Minister concluded.
Electro-mechanical engineering lecturer, Andreas Helwig has told the ABC that “if you were to look overseas, I would say the price [of electricity] would go up.”
Mr Helwig continued to explain that “Australia has a unique ability, we have a lot more sunshine to work with than Europe does…. It’s a question of how we engineer the system to actually keep the prices down [and] how we use or store the excess energy – which has costs associated with it as well.”
“It’s not just a simple policy about sustainability, it’s actually developing the infrastructure associated that gives the stability in our grid,” Helwig said, adding that “we don’t want to end up with an unreliable supply, or brownouts occurring during peak periods in mid-summer. These are all things we want to avoid,” he concluded.