$2b bid to head off industry collapse
QUEENSLAND'S renewable energy evolution has all but collapsed, with jobs constructing new solar and wind farms at risk of being wiped out completely within months.
A new analysis has revealed that investment in Queensland's new-age power sector plummeted during 2019, despite the State Government's push for 50 per cent renewables use by 2030.
The lack of new publicly funded incentives, falling wholesale power prices and the high cost of connecting isolated sun and wind sources to the grid are combining to imperil the transition.
However the Government will today put some spark back in the renewables sector by announcing that the approval process for a $2 billion Wide Bay wind farm, the largest of its type in the southern hemisphere, had moved to a new phase.
The Green Energy Markets analysis found that 1400 megawatts of large-scale renewable projects occurred in 2017 which flowed through to a peak of 2900 construction jobs in late 2018.
"Once Coopers Gap Wind Farm is likely to be completed around April next year, employment will have fallen to zero unless we see a complete turnaround in investment commitments," Green Energy Market's Tristan Edis said.
Solar Citizens' National Director Ellen Roberts said a lack of certainty around federal renewables schemes was to blame for the collapse and the Government needed to fill the void with new incentives and financial backing.
"The Federal Government's track record on transitioning the economy, and workers, to renewable energy has been pretty hopeless but the Queensland State Government can stop this looming disaster," she said.
The solar industry concerns come as State Development Minister Cameron Dick today announces the state has approved the 226 turbine Forest Wind project, which will create 440 construction jobs and represent 12 per cent of Queensland's renewables capacity when completed.
The massive 1200MW wind farm, which would be located in state forest between Gympie and Maryborough, could power 550,000 homes.
"This is enough power for all homes across the Wide Bay-Burnett, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast combined, or the entire Brisbane City Council area," Mr Dick said.
Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said while the wind farm still needed to stack up, the decision demonstrated that the transition to renewables remains on track.