Queensland government to develop 12 renewable energy zones

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The roadmap examines the potential of three regions in Queensland. Image: Genex Power.

The Queensland government has announced in intends to build 12 renewable energy zones (REZ) across the state as part of its effort to deploy 22GW of new wind and solar energy generation by 2035.

According to its latest draft of the 2023 Queensland Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap, an REZ is defined as “an area with strong wind and sun that is developed in a coordinated way to lower costs and improve local community, environmental, and cultural heritage outcomes”.

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REZs in Queensland will be developed over three phases from now to after 2028 to facilitate 22GW of additional renewable energy.

In Southern Queensland, up to 12.2GW of expected new renewable generation will be installed in five REZs, including Southern Downs, Western Downs, Tarong, Darling Downs and Woolooga. The Southern Downs and Western Downs are in-flight REZs, which are already underway with key foundation projects in development.

The roadmap outlined several advantages for REZ development in Southern Queensland, including its proximity to significant energy demand from Toowoomba, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, and the Queensland New South Wales Interconnector (QNI), helping deliver clean energy across the nation. Currently, the region boasts 17 operating solar and wind farms.

In Central Queensland, there will be four potential future REZs, including Callide, Calliope, Capricorn, Issac, with up to 8.2GW of renewables generation. There is a growing clean energy demand in the region, including aluminium smelter Boyne Smelters, which represents about 10% of the state’s energy demand. Also, two publicly owned power stations will be transformed into future clean energy hubs.

In North and Far North Queensland, three REZs such as Flinders, Collinsville and Far North Queensland will offer up to 5.1GW of new renewables generation. Far North Queensland was given the in-flight status. Local energy demand mainly comes from Cairns, Mackay and Townsville, where there is a hydrogen hub.

The roadmap added that Queensland is an ideal place harness solar power with over 260 days of sunshine a year, and one of the world’s highest levels of solar exposure. Currently, 40 solar farms are in operation and 89 are under construction or in the pipeline across the state.

Submissions on this draft roadmap can be made until 22 September 2023.

Previously, PV Tech Premium reported that the proportion of renewable energy (22.6%) in total power generation in Queensland last year was far behind the other five Australian states. Tasmania topped the list as 99.1% of power was generated by renewables, followed by South Australia (71.5%), Victoria (36.8%), Western Australia (35.2%), and New South Wales (30.7%).

But Arron Wood, chief policy and impact officer of CEC, commented that energy transition in the state will give certainty to workers, communities, and investors, which will unlock an enormous amount of investment and job creation in renewable energy and energy storage, particularly into regional Queensland.

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