Australia Identifies 12 “Renewable Energy Zones” As Part of $62bn Development Plan

Queensland’s Gold Coast

Australia has announced its new plans for the transition to renewable energy by establishing “renewable energy zones” across the state of Queensland. The zones will be the foundation of its $62bn plan to fully decarbonise it’s electricity supply. The local government says it hopes to have wind, solar and hydro projects to be focused in these zones and connected to a super grid of renewable power by 2035. This comes after an announcement last year, pledging to generate 80% of it’s renewables by 2035.

Mick de Brenni, Queensland’s minister for energy, renewables and hydrogen commented on the new zones, stating, “Our nation needs Queensland to succeed…There’s work to be done by governments to lead communities through a process and to develop that support for change.”

He adds that the new zones would help secure community support for “the biggest economic transition project that Queensland has ever embarked upon…We want to establish Queensland’s transition as a best-practice case study for the nation.”

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Queensland is Australia’s largest emitter of carbon emissions, responsible for roughly a third. The 12 proposed renewable energy zones will be split across 3 regions – with 5 in southern Queensland, 4 in central and 3 in the north.

The state currently has 16GW of energy generation, which includes 8GW of coal and 3.6GW of solar and wind. By 2023, 22GW of renewable energy will need to be connected to the grid in order to meet it’s renewable energy targets.

De Brenni comments on the location of the zones, stating that concentrating on the proposed areas would reduce potential risk to the projects as well as bringing a “level of accountability to workers, the community and the environment.”

He adds that the new zones would show the industry that Queensland is “serious about renewable energy and they (fossil fuel industry) need to get on board.”

However, local Queensland communities are eager to be involved with the development. David Copeman, director of the Queensland Conservation Council, claims the new project must “rapidly turn into the plans we need to speed up the construction of new renewables, to bring down both emissions and electricity prices, and protect threatened species habitat.”

He comments further, stating “It’s essential that traditional owners and communities are involved in designing their own energy future and protecting our biodiversity and rich cultural heritage.”

These ambitious new plans form part of a roadmap for Australia that will help them achieve their net zero targets. The plans set out how they will direct the huge effort which includes establishing local consultation groups, expert panels and dedicated assessments of all potential projects and job in each zone.