Since 2015, Queensland has amassed a total of 50 large-scale renewables projects (operational, under construction, or financially dedicated). This translates to $10.7 billion in investment, 7,900 jobs in construction, 5,774 MW (megawatts) of the clean energy, and almost 13.8 million tonnes of emissions saved per year (current as of 1 January 2022).
The state’s renewable energy capacity, which includes rooftop solar, totals 7,200 MW, putting significant pressure on electricity rates. Queensland generates 20.4 percent of its electricity from renewable sources (latest as of 1 January 2022).
Because of the rising cost of coal and gas, power costs in regional Queensland are likely to rise by 9.2 percent next financial year, according to a new analysis, which shows how clients are paying the cost of delays in establishing large-scale renewables programs.
The Queensland government, which controls the majority of the state’s power facilities, has set a 50 percent renewables target although says coal plants will “continue to play a vital part in our electrical system” and would not close ahead of time.
To counterbalance the rise in electricity bills, the government has promised a $175 rebate for homeowners. Taxpayers may soon be unable to get dividends from the state’s generators, according to budget documents from 2021.
According to a study by the Queensland Conservation Council, if two major wind farms now under construction — the MacIntyre and Wambo projects – had been completed sooner, power prices in remote areas would have fallen by 25%.
The report headlined Coal Power is Costing Queensland, stated that the price increases demonstrated that investment in these programs was required several years ago. “We’ve gone from possessing the lowest electricity prices in the year 2017 to the highest power prices in 2022 because Queensland hasn’t made an investment in renewable power at the same rate as other jurisdictions over the previous 5 years,” said Clare Silcock, the QCC’s energy strategist.
Queensland has taken a proactive approach to climate change, committing to a national greenhouse emissions target of 60% under 2000 levels by the year 2050 and developing a suite of abatement and adaptation activities. The ongoing development of the renewable energy industry will be critical to meeting the state’s carbon reduction targets.
Price hikes were more dramatic in coal-dependent areas like Queensland, according to Stephanie Gray, Solar Citizens’ deputy director. “We’ve seen unexpected gaps during periods of high demand in Queensland wholesale pricing due to problems at coal and gas units,” Gray said.
“To Queenslanders’ credit, the state government has promised a $175… rebate for their next electricity bill, although this is a band-aid fix to a long-term issue.” The Queensland Competition Authority announced its cost decision for regional consumers, stating that the price increases were due to an increase in generating costs, which would raise the average annual cost for homes from $119 to $1409.
It claimed that there was a “tighter supply-demand balance” in Queensland and that times of high demand were associated with decreased generation availability. Record heatwaves and unforeseen power outages at gas and coal plants, including Callide, have all contributed to this. The authority stated that generation costs have risen as a result of record-high gas and coal prices.
The Queensland Renewable Energy Plan works in tandem with other energy-related projects in the state to reduce energy usage growth, run the peak demand, as well as avoid expensive network upgrades. Climate change is among the big challenges of the day, and the government has recognized it.