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Renewables: powering Queensland's future

30 Oct 2017

Queensland is rich in energy resources of the past and future: coal and gas; as well as the sunshine and wind powered technologies which now dominate global investment. The state is fast approaching a crossroads for which future it will pursue. This report describes the opportunities and benefits that flow from deciding to pursue a clean, renewable future.

Climate change, largely driven by the burning of coal and gas, is worsening extreme weather events that threaten Queensland’s unique natural assets and tourism industry. Climate change is also contributing to the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, which supports 69,000 jobs and is estimated to contribute $7 billion to the Queensland economy (Climate Council 2017a).

Queensland is currently heavily reliant on fossil fuels for its electricity supply, and is a major exporter of coking coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) (Queensland Government 2017a). Coal provides 73% and gas 18% of the state’s power supply (Department of Environment and Energy 2017). However, high domestic gas prices, driven up by LNG exports, are contributing to higher electricity prices across the National Electricity Market, particularly in gas-heavy markets like Queensland (ACCC 2017).

The Queensland Government has also encouraged the development of fossil fuels for domestic use and export in the Galilee Basin (thermal coal) and Surat Basin (coal seam gas) and other areas of the state (Queensland Treasury 2017).

In response to these challenges, and in the absence of Federal Government policies on power or pollution, Queensland can lead the transition to a modern, clean renewable powered grid (Climate Council 2017a).

Renewable energy can bring many benefits to the Sunshine State. Queensland households with solar use 18% less electricity from the grid than the average residential user (ACCC 2017) while around 6,000 new jobs could be created with a renewable energy target of 50% across Australia (Climate Council and EY 2016).

On the other hand, Queensland households are leaders in distributed rooftop solar and a large-scale solar construction boom is just kicking off in the aptly named “Sunshine State.” Australia’s largest solar power plant has been approved in Queensland, which when built, will become one of the largest in the world.

As the world increasingly shifts away from fossil fuels to a renewable energy future, which path will Queensland choose?

This report provides a status update on electricity and renewable energy in Queensland.

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