Analysts in the energy sector have estimated that renewable energy has the potential to bring $24bn to Queensland if it is able to phase out its use of coal.
As well as reducing the reliance on coal-powered plants, if the Australian government can agree on carbon reductions and proceed with its greenlit projects, then the energy sector will see a dramatic six-fold upturn, analysts said.
A new report released by Green Energy Markets, which specializes in analyzing green financing and other sustainable assets, said that getting the right people on board will be the key catalyst.
Commissioned by Solar Citizens, a group that aims to bring solar users together, the report claimed that Queensland and other regions will only see the full benefits if the Australian government can agree on some form of emissions reduction.
This is unlikely to happen any time soon, given that the issue was one of the primary difficulties that saw former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lose his grip on power. Unable to pass his ambitious National Energy Guarantee, which contained emissions reductions targets in accordance with the 2015 Paris climate change accord, Turnbull had to water his bill down to pass it through parliament. Any leader with a similar intent is likely to face the same combatants.
If all projects go ahead, then Queensland should see a boom in more than just energy savings and generation, as 34,000 jobs in construction and 1,500 permanent jobs would be necessary.
According to the report, Queensland is performing well above the international average, as its climate tends to suit both solar and wind power. This has allowed wind and solar farms to be between 20% and 50% more efficient than their counterparts from around the world. Homesteads equipped with solar panels are already saving a noticeable $720 a year on average.
Queensland already has a target in place to offer half of all its energy usage through renewable sources by 2030, but the report suggested that the state will have to help businesses through policy to push this forward and make the most of the opportunity.
Solar Citizens has a base in Queensland, although its headquarters are in Sydney. Its Queensland representative, Louise Matthiesson, said that the group is in a great position to lead a renewable energy transition that brings in significant financial returns, given its access to many hours of sunshine, consistent wind and water supplies used for hydroelectric purposes.
Matthiesson noted that this process would not be without challenges and called for “strong, consistent and ongoing policy support for renewables” to get as many projects past the planning stage as possible.
Despite the lack of a clear roadmap to help enable future growth, Matthiesson did welcome the setup of Queensland’s state-backed CleanCo, a renewable energy corporation.
CleanCo, announced by the Queensland government in August, is an entity long in the making. It will remain publicly owned and have a focus on delivering an energy output based on renewables.
Treasurer Jackie Trad said that CleanCo is a “game changer” for Queensland, and it should be fully operational in the energy market within a year. It will operate initially with some 1,000MW of renewable sources as well as low-emissions generators.