Queensland’s Energy and Jobs Plan
The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, during her CEDA State of the State address launched a 10-year Energy and Jobs Plan (the Plan) outlining the state’s transition away from fossil fuels.
The multifaceted plan, which can be accessed here, strives to decarbonise the state as well as promote economic opportunities for green manufacturing and the export of hydrogen.
As part of the plan, $62 billion will be invested in renewable infrastructure in Queensland over the next decade which will support an estimated 100,000 jobs by 2040, the majority of which will be located in Regional Queensland.
The estimated expenditure of $62 Billion includes investment from state and federal governments aswell as from the private sector:
- The Queensland Government has committed $4 billion over the next four years
- Government estimates predict the state government will invest an additional $34 billion
- The Queensland Government has requested funding from the Federal Government, specially requesting funding for the construction of two new pumped hydro energy storage facilities
By 2040, under the Plan it is expected Queensland’s economy will be $25.7 billion larger than without the Plan, and wholesale electricity prices 15 per cent lower on average.
New Renewable Energy Target
Queensland’s Current Renewable Energy Target of 50% renewable energy by 2030 will be enshrined into law. Currently, approximately 21.4 % of the electricity used in the state comes from renewables.
In the plan, the State Government committed to reaching a:
- 70% Renewable Energy Target by 2032
- 80% renewable energy target by 2035
- 100% renewable electricity for large government sites (e.g. schools, hospitals) by 2030.
Further legal targets will be established to ensure greenhouse gas emissions from electricity will be 90 per cent lower than 2005 levels by 2035-36.
No changes have been made to the broader state emissions reduction target of 30 per cent within the decade and net-zero by mid-century.
Hydropower & Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES)
The energy plan commits to developing two new pumped hydros in regional Queensland.
Borumba pumped hydro
Located near Imbil, this site has been undergoing detailed design and cost analysis, and consultation with the local community.
It is expected to deliver two gigawatts of 24-hour storage, with completion slated for 2030.
Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro
Initial studies are underway for this site which has the potential to be the largest PHES in the world at 5 GW.
It is expected to supply half of Queensland’s entire energy needs.
The Government has announced $203.5 million of new funding (total:$273.5 million) to advance consideration of the Borumba and Pioneer-Burdekin PHES projects. This funding will support:
- detailed engineering and environmental investigations
- community engagement
- early access works
- The establishment of a new publicly owned entity, ‘Queensland Hydro’, to develop the PHES assets.
Wind and Solar
To meet demand and renewable energy targets, Queensland will need an additional 22GW of wind and solar energy. The Government has committed:
- $776 million to build Australia’s largest publicly owned wind farm in the South Burnett
- $370 million investment for the Kaban Wind Farm in Far North Queensland
- Approximately $1 Billion for new Wind Farms in the Darling Downs
- A new framework, that is intended to be legislated, will enable Powerlink to develop declared Renewable Energy Zones with coordinated transmission infrastructure to connect more renewable energy.
- To continue to fund grants for households and businesses to install rooftop solar. The plan estimates an addition of 11.6GW will be added to the grid through rooftop solar.
- $500 million from the Renewable Energy and Jobs Fund will be invested in large-scale and community-level battery storage.
An additional $2.5 billion, which was accrued through coal royalties has been added to the Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Fund. Bringing the total value of the fund to $4.5 billion.
The Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund allows energy government-owned corporations to increase ownership of commercial renewable energy and hydrogen projects, as well as supporting infrastructure, including in partnership with the private sector.
The Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019-2024 outlines a range of actions to increase Queensland’s global competitiveness as a trusted supplier of renewable hydrogen. As part of the strategy, in excess of $60 million has already been committed across multiple initiatives to help stimulate the hydrogen supply chain and support future hydrogen jobs in Queensland.
In September 2022, a memorandum of understanding was signed between a Queensland-based company and a South Korean consortium to develop a hydrogen supply chain potentially worth $20 billion.
The plan acknowledges that gas will continue to be a vital energy source for Queensland’s industrial and mining sectors. However, hydrogen will be blended with natural gas in the short term to provide lower emissions gas. In the long term, the objective is to shift towards renewable hydrogen (a zero-emissions gas) to provide dispatchable power.
The Queensland Government will invest in a new 200 MW hydrogen-ready gas peaking power station to be developed in Kogan Creek by CS Energy.
A “SuperGrid” which will connect solar, wind, battery and hydrogen generators across the state will also be built. The SuperGrid encapsulates all elements in the electricity system, including electrical poles, wires, solar, wind and storage.
Under the plan, the government aims to deliver 1,500 kilometres of transmission lines to connect renewable storage with established regional centres and South East Queensland. The government will invest $285 million to undertake early works on the first two stages of the backbone transmission.
The SuperGrid backbone transmission has four priority projects commencing from 2022:
- Connect Borumba PHES.
- Expand the connection of Southern Queensland to Central Queensland.
- Connect the Pioneer-Burdekin PHES into Central and Northern Queensland.
- Connect Hughenden and Townsville
Existing Coal Power Stations and Coal Jobs
Under the plan, existing coal-fired power stations will gradually become clean energy hubs from 2027 however, the government is willing to delay converting coal power stations until replacement pumped hydro energy storage is operational.
The Government has also signed a charter with energy unions for a new Job Security Guarantee. The Queensland Energy Workers Charter can be accessed here.
The $150 million Job Security Guarantee will support workers with access to reskilling, transfer to new opportunities and advice on future career pathways. The state government will also build two new transmission and training hubs in Gladstone and Townsville that will support 570 workers each year.
The plan outlines numerous other initiatives which the Government has committed to funding. Including:
- An additional $200 million for the Regional Economic Future Fund to support the transition
for regional communities where coal power stations are currently located
- $365 million for the Gladstone Grid Reinforcement to support heavy industries in the region to decarbonise
- $20 million to support the development of future hydrogen hubs
- $42 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- $11.6 million to grow local supply chains and support manufacturers
To ensure the goals of the plan are met, a new Queensland Energy System Advisory Board (QESAB) will be established to provide expert technical advice to Government on the energy transformation including updates to the Infrastructure Blueprint every two years from 2025 and an annual market snapshot.
Community consultation will begin in late 2022. Information about consultation activities will be available shortly on the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan website.
The Queensland Government will also:
- Release a state Energy Storage Strategy in 2024
- Establish a new Energy Industry Council to provide advice to Government on new opportunities and pathways for workers and their communities.
- Release an update of the Hydrogen Industry Development Strategy to cover 2024-2024