Labor’s “Powering Queensland’s Future” Plan

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her incumbent Labor party have fired the first renewable energy salvo ahead of the looming Queensland state election on the 25th, promising $150m to support new large-scale renewable generation and solar power in schools as part of their Powering Queensland’s Future plan. 

Powering Queensland’s Future

Premier Palazczuk announced the Powering Queensland’s Future Plan on Sunday while she was touring the Clare Solar Farm project in Ayr (in the Burdekin electorate which is currently held by the LNP). It includes $97 million for solar schools, a huge $50 million down payment for a new solar thermal power plant, $3.6 million to decarbonise remote communities, and a $1 million study for renewable solutions for the Daintree.

Annastacia Palaszcuk - Powering Queensland’s Future
Annastacia Palaszcuk & Labor – Powering Queensland’s Future (source:

Under the plan, the Government will establish a new company called CleanCo which will be mandated to deliver 1000MW of renewable energy in Queensland – with a special focus on flexible and dispatchable renewable energy (e.g. portable solar power). 

According to the Brisbane Times the funds would support a pipeline of $20 billion in proposed investment and it’ll create up to 15,000 full-time jobs, situated mostly in regional Queensland where unemployment is higher than in the cities. 

“We are committed to our transition to at least 50 percent renewable energy in Queensland by 2030,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“Our Powering Queensland’s Future Plan (delivers) delivering more of the cheapest form of new generation – renewables sooner to complement our young and efficient fleet of coal and gas-fired generation.”

This is in stark contrast to the LNP’s plan to scrap the RET (Renewable Energy Target) if they are elected, believing that it’s time for the free market to decide on renewables vs. fossil fuels via their ‘Cheaper Energy Policy’. According to Labor’s policy, “Funding was cut (under LNP) for the Solar Dawn project, which would have delivered Queensland’s first solar thermal plant near Chinchilla, along with investment and job and training opportunities in regional Queensland,” calling the Newman-Nicholls government “complete renewable energy blackout”. 

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls called the policy “more subsidies for more renewables that are going to cost jobs in regional Queensland”, and noted that they think baseload power is more reliable. 



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No-interest solar loans being considered by QLD

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palasczuk and the Queensland Government are considering adding no-interest solar loans to their arsenal of weapons against the rising cost of living in the Sunshine State. Despite the rapid advent of solar energy in Queensland prices are still high and consumer sentiment is at an all-time low.

No-Interest Solar Loans

QLD Treasurer Curtis Pitt advised that the government will offer no-interest solar loans for Queenslanders unable to raise the relatively high cost of investing in solar and battery tech.

“Solar panels and batteries are a great way for households and small businesses to cut their electricity bills, but for some the upfront cost can be a challenge,” Mr Pitt said.

Electricity saving scheme in QLD

Annastacia Palaszczuk - No-interest solar loans in QLD
Annastacia Palaszczuk – No-interest solar loans in QLD (source:

Earlier this week Ms Palaszczuk threatened to re-enter the retail energy market in Queensland if the Government’s saving scheme isn’t passed on to customers. She vowed to cut $50 from Queenslanders’ energy bills for the next two years and has also introduced a rebate of up to $300 for residents that want to purchase approved energy-efficient appliances.

“The time for action in Queensland is now,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“I’m the only Premier across Australia that can take this action and the reason I can do that is because Queenslanders own their assets.
“They’re our assets, they’re our dividends and now we’re going to use those dividends to help ease the pressures facing families across Queensland.

“Over this term we have used that money to pay down debt and restore frontlines services and now we’re moving to the next phase.”

The Government are giving over a dozen retailers until the end of the week to sign an “energy pledge”, which commits them to a public pledge to reduce bills (in lockstep with the Government’s attempts to reduce the wholesale costs of electricity).

According to the ABC, Origin and Alinta have “immediately said yes” and the rest of the companies have been asked to reply by close of business today. 

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Powering North Queensland Summit Recap

The Powering North Queensland Summit was held in Townsville last Thursday (August 31, 2017). It had some fantastic media coverage and over 200 companies were represented. It was a great event to show off how far solar has come in North Queensland since last year and was run as a joint initiative of the Australian Solar Council and the Energy Storage Council. 

Powering North Queensland Summit Recap

Powering North Queensland Summit 2017
Powering North Queensland Summit – Townsville, 2017 (source:

John Grimes of the Australian Solar Council and Battery Storage Council told the summit that Queensland has $6.8 billion of investment in the pipeline. The 31 large-scale solar projects, four wind / solar / storage hybrid plants, and one pumped hydro project will generate more than 6 gigawatts of power, with the vast majority of them being located in North Queensland. It’s estimated that this represents around 3,200 jobs as well.

Grimes also said that that PV solar is now the cheapest source of electricity worldwide, where it, along with wind, costs around 30 AUD per megawatt hour. “We are getting to the point where the cost of solar PV is so cheap it’s basically following the cost trajectory for glass. The glass and aluminium frame are the most expensive components,” Mr Grimes said, according to the Townsville Bulletin.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also addressed the Powering North Queensland summit, discussing the $199m 300 hectare Sun Metals solar farm which will be built next to its $1b zinc refinery in Townsville.

“What we are seeing is private investment of $2 billion and $1.6 billion in north Queensland … upon completion Sun Metals will be the largest single site user of renewable energy. This is a unique project and is a great example of an innovative company investing in its future and North Queensland.”

Apart from the usual political posturing and petty point-scoring, Palaszczuk also highlighted the Government’s $1.16b Powering Queensland Plan, which hopes to provide electricity price relief for the state by investing $770m to offset the Solar Bonus Scheme. Other initiatives were also discussed, and the Premier reiterated the QLD Government’s commitment to a 50% RET (Renewable Energy Target) by 2030.

To read the premier’s full speech, please click here.

North Queensland Renewables Boom Interview

John Grimes of the Australian Solar Council and Rachel Watson, the GM of Australia Pacific Hydro, were also on Radio National last Saturday discussing the Haughton Solar Farm in Townsville and the other myriad solar projects currently in various stages of construction/planning across North Queensland. You can listen to the show on the ABC website by clicking here.


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Kogan Creek Solar Boost failure blamed on coal policy

The failure of the Kogan Creek Solar Boost, the Chinchilla solar project scrapped last year at a cost of at least $45m to taxpayers, has been blamed on former QLD Premier Campbell Newman and current Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ‘pro-coal’ policies, according to the project’s scientist inventor David Mills.

Kogan Creek Solar Boost Station
Kogan Creek Power Station (source:

Kogan Creek Solar Boost failed due to lack of PPAs

Australian Scientist Mills has invented a pioneering type of solar thermal technology which was slated to be used at Kogan Creek. The project was supposed to reduce carbon emissions and result in increased efficiency at the coal-fired Kogan Creek power station. Mills had a plan to use thousands of heliostat mirrors to focus solar energy and pre-heat steam, which would then drive turbines to generate power. This is a novel concept as it uses the sun’s heat to generate renewable energy, rather than its light. Run by French nuclear group Areva for Queensland state-owned power utility CS Energy, the project was scrapped by them in 2016 citing “technical and contractual problems”. CS Energy recorded a $70m ‘impairment’ in its accounts due to the failed scheme – and 50% of this amount was funded by the Queensland Government’s Carbon Reduction Program. Another $35m was supposed to come from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) but it ended up only paying $6.4m before the project was shelved for a multitude of reasons.

Mills said that when the project was in its inception then-Premier Anna Bligh was supporting the project, but Newman and Palaszczuk weren’t able to get state-owned power companies to buy the electricity produced under a power purchase agreement, effectively killing off the scheme. Queensland Solar has suffered a major setback as a result.

“It’s clear that there’s protection of existing companies going on here for the local industry,” Dr Mills said. He was also adamant about the efficacy of the tech, stating that “This is not a technology failure.” However, there were additional problems at Kogan Creek which helped scupper its chances of reaching completion.

“Fast Moving Clouds” – the failure of Kogan Creek

The Kogan Creek Solar Boost was supposed to supply energy for up to 5,000 Queensland homes – but today over 3,000 solar panels are sitting unused at the site and the $105m project appears doomed. CS Energy officially abandoned the project last year, citing “rapidly moving clouds” and the fact that their steam pipes were rusting in the Queensland climate.

The site’s manager from 2011-2013, Ian Canham from Areva Solar,  has publicly rubbished claims about the “rapidly moving clouds” and noted that the pipes rusted because they were left uncollected at the Port of Brisbane during the 2011 floods because of a pay dispute between Areva and DHL, subsequently rendering 80% of them unusable. Canham also said that “ARENA never came to the site” and neither did the state government, despite providing significant funding. Throughout this litany of errors Areva imported steel from China of such poor quality it was buried as scrap, and 40 Areva workers arrived from the US without adequate safety gear or training. Canham estimated that Areva lost nearly $50m on the project.

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