An independent draft report has proposed three pathways for Queensland to achieve its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
The Credible Pathways to a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target for Queensland – Draft Report by the independent Renewable Energy Expert Panel is the result of a comprehensive public consultation program by an independent team of business, energy, and environmental experts.
The reports proposes three credible pathways which are:
- Linear pathway: This pathway assumes a uniform rate of renewables build from 2020-2030
- Ramp pathway: Features a ramp up in effort later in the period to capitalise on falling technology costs
- Stronger National Action pathway: Assesses what additional Queensland Government action would be required to reach a 50 per cent target if a stronger national emissions reduction scheme is put in place from 2020 to achieve a 45 per cent reduction in electricity sector emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.
Queensland Minister for Energy, Mark Bailey, said consideration of electricity network security and affordability were central to the draft report which found that Queensland can meet a 50 per cent renewable energy target while maintaining electricity security and reliability over the next 14 years.
“Coal and gas-fired generation are expected to continue to play a significant role in Queensland to 2030 under a 50 per cent target,” Mr Bailey said.
“The Credible Pathways draft report projects a 50 per cent target would have a cost neutral impact on Queensland’s electricity consumers.
“This is due to additional supply from new renewable generators placing downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices which is projected to offset the payments to renewable projects.”
Mr Bailey said the draft report also shows there would be a significant boost to clean energy investment and jobs, particularly in regional Queensland.
“This includes a net average increase in employment of around 6,400-6,700 direct and indirect jobs per annum between 2020 and 2030,” Mr Bailey said.
“The Credible Pathways draft report also finds there would be $6.7 billion of new investment through the 50 percent renewables by 2030 target, delivering huge benefits to the Queensland economy.”
Mr Bailey said the draft report recommends that the Queensland Government shouldn’t pursue the implementation of broader state-based economic policy mechanisms, such as carbon pricing.
“This is consistent with the Premier’s commitment in May this year when she ruled out a carbon tax,” Mr Bailey said.
Panel Chair, investment banker, engineer, and experienced business executive, Colin Mugglestone, said the draft report finds Queensland has strong potential to grow its renewable energy industry.
“In the short term, the government can leverage existing federal funding under the national large scale renewable energy target to attract projects to Queensland in the period up to 2020,” Mr Mugglestone said.
“This could occur via a competitive reverse auction process similar to Solar 150, with the Panel recommending an indicative target of up to 400MW prior to 2020.
“In the longer-term after 2020, the report includes three credible pathways towards achieving the renewable energy target, for the government’s consideration.”
“The Panel will soon undertake a second round of community consultation before delivering its Final Report to Government by the end of the year,” Mr Mugglestone said.
“During October, the Panel will take the Credible Pathways draft report to public and industry forums in Rockhampton, Mackay, Cairns, Bundaberg, Brisbane, Toowoomba, and the Gold Coast.”
Mr Bailey urged Queenslanders to have their say on the future of Queensland’s power generation at the upcoming series of Renewable Energy public forums.
“The Expert Panel has engaged closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) throughout its inquiry, and the Government will continue to work proactively with AEMO to ensure that Queensland’s system security and reliability are at the forefront of our planning,” Mr Bailey said.
Queensland Minister for Environment, Dr Steven Miles, said a sustainable transition to 50 per cent renewable energy would create the jobs of the future and continue to boost investment, act on climate change, and deliver value and system security for both customers and government.
“With Germany producing 32 per cent of its energy from renewables and California producing 30 per cent of its energy from renewables today, this target is responsible and very achievable technically and economically,” Dr Miles said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is acting on climate change, it’s real and we’re committed to taking action to tackle it.”
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) welcomed the report’s recommendation that Queensland should remain flexible while national policy was still being developed.
ENA Chief Executive Officer, John Bradley, said the report highlighted Queensland’s enormous renewable energy resources, but was focussed only on one policy option – a renewable energy target.
“We welcome the recommendation that Queensland’s policies will be more credible and durable if explicitly integrated with national carbon and energy policy,” Mr Bradley said.
“Yes, more renewable generation will be vital, but it’s still just a ‘means to the end’ of achieving carbon abatement.
“The final Panel report should answer the right question – what is the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions, while keeping the lights on for customers?”
Mr Bradley said previous analysis by the Climate Change Authority and Jacobs had indicated that technology specific targets resulted in higher cost carbon abatement.
“The Expert Panel report suggests the potential for higher cost outcomes if Queensland tries to go it alone – it is right to recommend a flexible approach, working with national policy.
“A staged approach also allows careful consideration of power system security and national electricity market reforms, given Queensland would have a greater use of renewable energy on the system in 2030 than South Australia has today.”
Mr Bradley said the report recognised the potential for Queensland Government measures to be significantly different if national carbon policies were introduced.
“The Report’s Stronger National Action scenario would see Queensland contributing more carbon abatement with less renewable energy and avoiding a state scheme with direct subsidies of $500 to $900 million.
“We welcome the Queensland Government’s commitment to a cleaner energy system. If national policy frameworks are used with clear carbon targets, consumers will pay less and energy security can be better managed.”