CANBERRA, AAP – The federal resources minister will explain to parliament why he stepped in to stop a taxpayer loan to help a planned wind farm in far north Queensland.
Keith Pitt used his ministerial veto power to stop the $280 million loan to the Kaban green power hub, which comprises a 157 megawatt wind farm and 100 megawatt battery.
The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility recommended the project receive a loan.
“We’re about affordable, reliable and dispatchable power, so it didn’t meet the requirements for the government’s policy,” Mr Pitt told Sky News on Monday.
“The decision I’ve made is on the ability for the project and the proponent for dispatchable, affordable, reliable power, and that’s what I’ve done.
“A statement of reasons will be provided in the parliament, as is required by the legislation.”
Mr Pitt would not confirm when asked repeatedly if the loan would cover the battery, which would store wind-generated power so it could be dispatched when needed.
He would not say how much battery storage was needed for him to consider the project dispatchable.
“How big is the battery? Is it an AA battery, is it a very large battery, is it a small battery, does it run one house?”
NAIF has previously loaned money to multiple energy projects, including gas, hydro power and a hybrid solar and gas plant.
The Kaban project has been put forward by Neoen, the company responsible for South Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve – the largest lithium-ion battery in the world.
Kaban has a power purchase agreement with Queensland government-owned CleanCo to support the state’s target of 50 per cent renewable electricity by 2030.
The federal government has no renewable energy target, with the coalition instead focused on ensuring power supply is reliable.
Another $58.6 million has been set aside in Tuesday’s federal budget to help support gas pipelines, port terminals and new gas fields.
The government released an interim National Gas Infrastructure Plan alongside the funding.
The final version will be released later this year and will be the government’s blueprint for the east coast gas market until 2040.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has also flagged additional funding to fill the gap left by the impending closure of AGL’s coal-fired Liddell power plant.
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition will spell out ‘fund our future, not gas’ with candles outside Parliament House as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivers the budget.
The group’s national director Alex Fuller says the government should not put public money towards gas.
“Young people will foot the bill of the government’s climate inaction.”
The government has also announced $1 billion for initiatives to lower emissions, including carbon capture and storage.