This paper aims to be a stimulus to discussion and implementation of sustainable energy policy in Queensland, focusing on electricity generation. It aims, to assist in a rapid transition to a renewable energy and energy efficient future. This policy is urgently needed to address the global warming challenge facing the world, whilst helping to establish an alternative economic base to coal and gas mining by investing in innovation in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Globally, an energy transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency is already happening in many countries. Queenslanders strongly support these technologies and Government policy should reflect the peoples’ wishes. Whilst recent State Government commitments to renewable energy, including a target of 50 percent renewable energy electricity generation by 2030, are to be applauded, Queensland lags behind most other States in this regard.
This discussion paper outlines political, economic, environmental and social reasons why government should strongly support renewable energy and energy efficiency. It reports on the current status of and barriers to renewable energy contributing to electricity generation in the State. Finally, it outlines a range of supportive policy initiatives.
Key findings are:
- Energy issues played a significant role in the recent State election. The lack of support by the LNP government for renewable energy in the State, in particular roof-top solar PV, concerns over coal and gas mining expansion, and its impact on the Great Barrier Reef, contributed to an electoral backlash against the LNP.
- Renewable energy contributed almost 10 percent to electricity consumption in 2014. This has increased from about 6 percent in 2008. This includes the contribution from domestic solar hot water. However, this is well below the renewable energy contribution in some States and/or their targets such as South Australia and the ACT.
- Energy efficiency’s contribution to saving energy has not been fully measured and reported. This is a major policy failure of previous governments.
- Electricity demand continues to fall Australia-wide but is predicted by the AEMO to increase in Queensland. This is disputed by some including large energy users in the State.
Key suggested policy measures include:
- Re-establishing an Office of Clean Energy or a similar department to oversee the development and implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency policy and associated targets.
- Implementing both the target of 50 percent for electricity generation from renewable energy, and an energy efficiency target for electricity consumption and transport energy use by 2030. These should aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector by at least a similar amount below 2000 levels.
- Removing subsidies, including infrastructure expenditure, to the fossil fuel industry and redirecting these monies to the development and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Full policy details are given in the section titled “Transitioning to Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency – What we need to do to get there”.