Wind farm parts Picture: Mark Wilson
Wind farm parts Picture: Mark Wilson

6100 jobs, 108 energy projects planned for Gympie, Wide Bay

MORE than 51,000 construction jobs, including 6100 in the Wide Bay Burnett and Gympie region, could be created in Queensland if the 108 large-scale renewable energy projects in the development pipeline went ahead, a new analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens has found.

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The analysis by Green Energy Markets found the proposed projects, worth $36 billion to the Queensland economy, would generate enough electricity yearly to cover 92 per cent of Queensland’s electricity usage and provide exciting new employment opportunities for regional Queenslanders.

Closest to Gympie are the Lower Wonga BP Lightsource project, the $2 billion Lower Wonga Solar Q project, the Woolooga LGI Limited project, the 400ha solar farm at Munna Creek by REST Energy, North Aramara and Teebar Clean Energy and the $w billionForest Wind wind farm at Toolara.

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These job and investment figures come after Queensland Government modelling showed the state economy could face a $10 billion hit from coronavirus.

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In the Wide Bay Burnett region, 16 proposed large-scale renewable energy projects would mean:

  • 2.5GW of proposed capacity (enough energy to power 750,000 homes)
  • 5,620,800 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide savings
  • 6,100 construction jobs
  • 250 operational jobs
  • $4,470,690,000 worth of investment
$3.5 million in state funding has been awarded to Coolamon Energy for the Byron Bay Solar Farm and Battery Storage Project.
$3.5 million in state funding has been awarded to Coolamon Energy for the Byron Bay Solar Farm and Battery Storage Project.

“These clean energy projects would present ongoing job opportunities for regional Queenslanders and could play a key role in boosting the struggling economy,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

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“But new renewable projects are facing mountains of hurdles and developers are saying to us, ‘we’re looking down south,’ because the incentives are just not here to bring the projects to Queensland.”

Tilt Renewables' Dundonnell wind farm under construction. Picture: SUPPLIED
Tilt Renewables' Dundonnell wind farm under construction. Picture: SUPPLIED

It is understood that a large proportion of the potential 21GW of utility renewable capacity waiting in Queensland’s development pipeline is being held up by energy policy uncertainty and the need for new transmission infrastructure.

“For Queenslanders to get a bigger slice of the jobs and investment pie, we need the federal and state governments to step up and remove some of the barriers stopping new projects from getting off the ground,” said Ms Roberts.

“Energy policy uncertainty, transmission issues and grid restraints are killing renewable investment in Queensland, and therefore, killing the potential for new renewable jobs.

“The projects in the pipeline now could be just the beginning. Queensland can have a bright economic future using cheap renewable energy resources to power advanced manufacturing and create a new export industry.”

Granville Harbour Wind Farm. Picture Chris Kidd
Granville Harbour Wind Farm. Picture Chris Kidd

Grid and market obstacles saw the number of new large-scale renewable projects reaching financial close crash from over 1,400MW in 2017 to less than 20MW last year.

“While there was a complete collapse in Queensland renewable energy investment last year, it was not for a lack of quality wind and solar farm sites,” said Tristan Edis from Green Energy Markets.

“While other state governments are moving to upgrade transmission and underwrite new projects through long-term contracts, we haven’t seen the same level of initiative in Queensland over the past 2 years.

“Queensland has great potential to become a renewable energy superpower, but waiting on the Federal Government to act isn’t going to see the potential realised.”