QLD government aims to turn Sunshine State into Solar State

Queensland’s state Labor government says it has increased the capacity of its large scale solar auction to 60MW from 40MW as it seeks to accelerate the transition from the “sunshine state” to the “solar state.”

The Palaszczuk government announced its plans to hold a reverse auction – following the success of these auctions in the ACT – to kick-start the renewable energy industry in the state as part of its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

State energy minister Mark Bailey told the Disruption and the Energy Industry conference hosted by RenewEconomy in Sydney on Wednesday that the auction would be tied in with the planned auction of proposals from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA plans to set aside $100 million in grants to get some 200MW of large scale solar built in Australia, and this will be supported by a further $250 million in financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Queensland will throw in an unspecified amount of extra money to ensure that up to 60MW of large scale solar will be built in the state – over and above the 150MW of large-scale renewables, mostly solar, to be contracted by the state-government owned regional network, Ergon Energy.

“We are long overdue in getting large-scale renewables going in this state,” Bailey said, noting that the state had lost nearly 1,300 renewable energy jobs under the previous government in an “astonishing own goal” by the Coalition government.

“We are determined to make the Sunshine State the Solar State,” he said.

Queensland is already the market leader in rooftop solar, with more than 1,400MW of capacity on around 450,000 households. The new government expects to double this to around 3,000MW of capacity on a million rooftops by 2020.

Queensland has not released details of how it will fund the scheme, but it will likely be through some form of feed-in tariff, as the SCT government has done. Bailey said the additional costs of going to 60MW under the scheme were incremental.

“It is not just good policy, it is a good investment in terms of growing the industry,” Bailey told RenewEconomy.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson