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Queensland plans 3.3GW new renewables generation

The Queensland state government has released a consultation paper including plans to unlock 3.3 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy generation capacity across the state.

According to an official statement, the government has committed A$145 million (US$105m) to create three renewable energy zones (REZs) in the state. The northern zone will have capacity for 500 megawatts (MW) generation, the central zone will have capacity for 2.3GW and the southern zone will have capacity for 453MW. The plans will contribute to the state’s goal of meeting a 50% renewable energy target by 2050.

Renewables expert George Varma of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “Queensland’s rapid ascent to becoming Australia’s leading renewable energy producer continues with this recent announcement. Unlocking a further 3.3GW of renewable energy production by focusing on the development of REZs will play an important role in the state’s energy transition ambitions.  We are seeing more states across Australia adopt an approach of making more land available for renewable energy deployment, which will certain help Australia progress along its much-needed energy transition journey.”

The northern zone covers the Cairns, Townsville and Mackay regions, the paper sets out A$40m plans to build on current transmission infrastructure, with a focus on developing wind energy. The central zone covers Rockhampton, Gladstone and Bundaberg, with a focus on developing resources to support hydrogen economy. The southern zone covers Brisbane and Toowoomba: this REZ has “good wind resources”, and over 70 projects have registered their interest in this REZ with over 8.3GW of wind capacity, according to the paper.

The paper stressed that the combined 3.3GW of renewable capacity in these regions form the first stage of planned REZ development.

Queensland has worked with state-owned transmission company Powerlink to prepare a framework for the development of the REZs.

The consultation will be relevant to renewable energy operators, developers, and investors, energy market and network operators, energy market regulators, energy councils, and large energy users. The public consultation period is open until 14 January 2022.

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