‘Credible Pathways’ report into Qld renewables future released

The Queensland government has released a draft report into its 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 target outlining three pathways to achieving the goal.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the release of the ‘Credible Pathways to a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target for Queensland – Draft Report’ was the result of public consultation by an independent team of business, energy and environmental experts.

“Consideration of electricity network security and affordability were central to the draft report which found that Queensland can meet a 50 per cent renewable energy target while maintaining electricity security and reliability over the next 14 years,” he said.

“Coal and gas-fired generation are expected to continue to play a significant role in Queensland to 2030 under a 50 per cent target.

“The Credible Pathways draft report projects a 50 per cent target would have a cost neutral impact on Queensland’s electricity consumers.

Panel chair Colin Muggleston, who is also an engineer and investment banker, said the Credible Pathways draft report found Queensland had strong potential to grow its renewable energy industry.

“In the short term, the government can leverage existing federal funding under the national Large Scale Renewable Energy Target to attract projects to Queensland in the period up to 2020,” Mr Mugglestone said.

“This could occur via a competitive reverse auction process similar to Solar 150, with the panel recommending an indicative target of up to 400 megawatts prior to 2020.

“In the longer-term after 2020, the report includes three credible pathways towards achieving the renewable energy target, for the Government’s consideration.”

Energy Networks Association Chief Executive Officer John Bradley said the report highlighted Queensland’s enormous renewable energy resources, but was focussed only on one policy option – a renewable energy target.

“We welcome the recommendation that Queensland’s policies will be more credible and durable if explicitly integrated with national carbon and energy policy,” Mr Bradley said.

“Yes, more renewable generation will be vital, but it’s still just a ‘means to the end’ of achieving carbon abatement.

“The final Panel report should answer the right question – what is the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions, while keeping the lights on for customers?”

The Australian Energy Council has issued a statement in response to the report urging the Queensland Government to recognise the value of existing investments in setting targets going forward.

AEC’s chief executive Matthew Warren issued the statement following the release of a draft report by Queensland renewable energy expert panel and said if governments want business to invest in renewable technologies, they must not destroy the value of existing investments.

“Transforming the Queensland electricity system will require a multi-billion dollar investment over decades,” he said.

“This will have to be paid for either by consumer or Queensland taxpayers.

“If the Queensland government uses its control of two-thirds of generation capacity in Queensland to suppress wholesale prices as new capacity is built, this will only undermine the conditions needed to deliver this investment.

“It will also impair many businesses that will then be expected to invest in the new generation.”

The Clean Energy Council has welcomed the report, saying a long-term strategic plan could drive the greater uptake of renewable energy in Queensland.

““Renewable energy like wind and solar power has fallen massively in cost, to the point where it is now the cheapest kind of new electricity generation that can be built today,” Mr Thornton said.

“The world is speeding towards a low-carbon economy, and most of our coal-fired power stations are now at or beyond the age at which we would expect them to be shut down. The choice we have is what we will replace them with.”