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Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan


An ambitious plan to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy by 2035

12 min read


The long-awaited Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan (the Plan), which outlines the Government’s aims to transform the state’s energy system over the next 12 years—to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy—has been released.1 It is ambitious, seeking to remove regular reliance on coal-fired generation by 2035 and setting new renewable energy targets for the state.

While the Plan is currently light on details of how the reforms will be implemented, it is expected that more information will be released over the next 12–24 months, as the Government gets to work delivering on its promises.

This Insight examines what we can expect over the next 12 years from this endeavour to transform Queensland’s energy system and achieve 80% renewable energy by 2035.

Key takeaways

  • The Queensland Government will target 70% renewable energy by 2032 and 80% renewable energy by 2035. The majority of its energy system will remain publicly owned, and publicly owned coal-fired power stations will be converted into clean energy hubs. 
  • The reforms will be achieved by focusing on three key areas: building a clean energy economy, empowering households and businesses, and securing jobs and communities.
  • The key aspects of each area of reform are expected to be delivered at various stages up to 2035, with most of the initial legislative frameworks to be delivered by 2023. View the indicative timeline here
  • Private sector investment in new renewable energy generation, batteries and storage will be critical to the plan’s success.
  • Consultation on the Plan with industry and community stakeholders will occur over the next 12 months.

Overview

The Plan seeks to remove regular reliance on coal-fired generation by 2035 by:

  • establishing a ‘SuperGrid’ connecting at least 25 GW of renewable generation;
  • developing two pumped hydro facilities with up to 7 GW of long duration storage (with one facility, Pioneer-Burdekin, expected to be one of the largest pumped-hydro projects in the world) and establishing a dedicated, publicly owned entity known as Queensland Hydro to develop these projects;
  • upgrading grid transmission;
  • investing in hydrogen and bioenergy technologies; and
  • converting publicly owned coal-fired power stations into clean energy hubs.

The Plan also sets new renewable energy targets for the state (in addition to the existing target of 50% renewable energy by 2030) – 70% renewable energy by 2032 and 80% renewable energy by 2035.

The Plan brings Queensland in line with NSW and Victoria, which have previously published similar roadmaps and plans, and is evidently crucial to the state’s ambition to deliver a climate positive Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.

Who in your organisation needs to know about this?

The plan is relevant to anyone living in, investing in or otherwise doing business in Queensland. In particular, board members and business development teams in organisations involved in constructing and delivering clean energy projects should familiarise themselves with the plan.

What reforms can we expect from the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan?

The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan focuses on reforms across three key areas, being:

Each focus area includes a number of key reforms that will be supported by funding and investment from the Queensland Government.

B&HR-esg-100px_environment-01.pngBuilding a clean energy economy

The Queensland electricity grid will become a ‘SuperGrid’, a modern energy system powered by renewable energy. The creation of this ‘SuperGrid’ will, at a high level, involve the following:

  • four new high-voltage (up to 500kV each) backbone transmission projects:2
  • Borumba connection: two transmission lines around 140km in total length to connect Borumba to the grid in southern Queensland;
  • central Queensland connection: a 290km transmission line to move energy between southern and central Queensland;
  • Pioneer-Burdekin PHES and NQ connection: a 750km line to connect central Queensland to Pioneer-Burdekin PHES and north Queensland load; 
  • Townsville to Hughenden: a 370km transmission line to connect Townsville to Hughenden, to be delivered in three stages: Larcom to Nebo, Nebo to Pioneer, and Pioneer to Townsville (with the potential to extend the connection to the North West Minerals Province);
  • two 24-hour pumped hydro facilities (PHES): Borumba pumped hydro (Gympie region) and Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro (Mackay region) to be developed by ‘Queensland Hydro; (a new publicly owned entity established by the Government);
  • private sector investment in batteries and storage: the Government will separately release the Queensland Battery Industry Strategy’ sometime in 2023, outlining its strategy to grow local industry for battery, minerals, chemicals and advanced manufacturing; and the ‘Energy Storage Strategy’ sometime in 2024, outlining Queensland’s storage and firming needs;
  • additional funding ($500 million) for Queensland’s publicly owned energy businesses to invest in battery projects that maximise local content; developing Queensland Renewable Energy Zones (QREZ); connecting an additional 22 GW of renewable energy through the upgrade of existing infrastructure, and development of renewable energy, storage and hydrogen projects in the QREZs:3
    • Northern QREZ (6 GW);
    • Central QREZ (8 GW); and
    • Southern QREZ (11 GW).

Funding of $4.5 billion will be made available to Queensland’s publicly owned energy businesses to invest in these projects. The state has signalled that the QREZ Roadmap will include an accelerated connection and access process to fast-track access to market for projects within the QREZs; and that, following ministerial declaration of each QREZ, Powerlink (as the designated planning body) will develop a REZ Management Plan outlining the infrastructure investment, location and capacity of each QREZ;

  • decarbonisation of heavy industries in Gladstone (supported by Powerlink’s $365 million investment for the Gladstone Grid Reinforcement);
  • a 200 MW hydrogen ready gas peaking power station at Kogan Creek (to be developed by CS Energy in partnership with Iberdrola) to ensure grid reliability with low to no emissions gas;
  • implementation of new legislation to enshrine 50% renewable energy target by 2030, with 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035;
  • establishment of a new Queensland Energy System Advisory Board to provide technical advice to the Government on the energy transition; and
  • development of strategies and investment in new renewable technologies, such as renewable hydrogen hubs, sustainable liquid fuels and bioenergy.

B&HR-esg-100px_governance-03.pngEmpowering households and businesses

The rooftop solar, batteries and electric cars of Queenslanders will be leveraged to maintain affordable and stable energy in the system, through:

  • investment in smart meters, electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure;
  • providing funding ($10 million) to non-government organisations to help households save on their electricity bills (through access to energy efficiency advice and devices, with priority given to those Queenslanders experiencing vulnerability or who have historically had limited engagement with the energy system);
  • delivering the Queensland Business Energy Saving and Transformation program to support small-and medium-sized businesses in purchasing energy efficient equipment, smart technology and in implementing energy management systems; and
  • providing commercial building owners and tenants with access to fixed interest and secured loans (via Environmental Upgrade Agreements) to upgrade existing commercial buildings with energy-efficiency features to reduce emissions and save on energy.

B&HR-esg-100px_social-02.pngSecuring jobs and communities

The Queensland Government plans to support communities and workers to be partners in the energy transformation through a number of reforms, including:

  • Between 2027 and 2035, converting all publicly owned coal-fired power stations into clean energy hubs, which are intended to provide critical system services to the grid (ie new generation, storage and firming, renewable hydrogen assets etc). Where feasible, coal-fired units will be repurposed into synchronous condensers to support system strength and inertia.
  • Ensuring job security for workers in Queensland’s publicly owned coal-fired power stations through the implementation of a $150 million Job Security Guarantee to be backed by a fund and a new tripartite Energy Workers’ Charter between unions, government and employers.
  • Assisting Queensland workers and regional communities to capitalise on the upcoming opportunities through the:
  • establishment of a new Energy Industry Council, which will advise the Queensland Government on opportunities and pathways for communities and their workers;
    • appointment of a Queensland Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate responsible for championing future secure jobs in the renewable energy sector;
    • development of a Future Energy Workforce Roadmap outlining how workforce capacity and capability will be achieved; and
    • investment of $90 million to establish two new regional transmission and training hubs, in conjunction with Powerlink.

When can we expect these reforms to be implemented?

The key aspects of each area of reform are expected to be delivered at various stages up to 2035, with most of the initial legislative frameworks to be delivered by 2023.

Click on the PDF below for an indicative timeline of what the Queensland Government will endeavour to achieve over the next 12 years and the Government entities / departments responsible for their delivery:

19524D-qld-energy-timelinelink-tile_200x1005.jpg

How do the reforms compare against other States?

Like Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory are also targeting 50% renewable energy by 2030. These targets are conservative when compared with South Australia and Western Australia who are targeting 100% and 80% renewable generation by 2030, respectively. Notably, Tasmania has already achieved net zero emissions and is focused on achieving 200% renewable energy by 2040.

Similar to Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia will also implement Renewable Energy Zones and transmission upgrade projects and will be looking to rely on pumped hydro, hydrogen, biomass and batteries to ensure reliable and stable energy and achievement of renewable energy targets.

Outlined in its Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, which was released in November 2020, the NSW Government is looking to invest in transmission and firming infrastructure, deliver pumped hydro facilities and to develop hydrogen and other storage and production technologies.4  Since its release in 2020, the NSW Government has begun delivering a number of those reforms. It has already progressed the procurement processes:

  1. to appoint the network operator for the first NSW REZ, the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone;
  2. for the Waratah Super Battery; and
  3. REZ access rights in the CWO REZ and Long Term Service Agreements (both generation and long-duration storage)5,

and is looking to roll out procurement processes for more REZs and storage projects in 2022 and 2023.6

AEMO Services, as Consumer Trustee in relation to the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap is also due to publish in November 2022 an update to its 2021 Infrastructure Investment Objectives Report, which is expected to map out the pathway and timetable for the procurement of Long Term Service Agreements for firming generators that do not meet the statutory definition of long-duration storage.

The Victorian Government, as part of its REZ Development Plan published in February 2021 is also progressing its delivery of Renewable Energy Zones and transmission upgrades, but is not as far advanced as New South Wales.7 In addition, at the end of September the Victorian Government released the Renewable Energy Storage Targets and Support package which targets 2.6 GW of renewable energy storage capacity by 2030 and 6.3 GW by 2035. The support package of $157 million will support five projects, including two large scale battery projects, two bioenergy projects and one renewable hydrogen project.

Next steps

The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan is undoubtedly ambitious and whilst it is currently unclear how the State intends to deliver on many of the reforms, once thing which is clear that the state will need to move quickly if it is to deliver on all of the key reform areas by 2035.

Over the next 12 months the Queensland Government will consult with industry and communities regarding:

2023

  • QREZ Roadmap (including legislative framework).
  • Regional Energy Transformation Partnerships Framework.
  • Future Energy Workforce Roadmap.

2024

  • Energy Storage Strategy.
  • Fuels Strategy for sustainable liquid fuels.

To participate in any of the above consultations or to receive updates regarding the implantation of the plan, subscribe here.

Those looking to participate in the implementation of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan should continue to monitor government announcements.



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