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Renewable energy could power up jobs in Queensland

The Queensland government has announced that $2.4 billion worth of renewable energy projects are on the horizon, providing a significant boost for jobs in the state.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government is keen to promote green energy alternatives in the hope of diversifying the state’s energy mix, increasing employment opportunities and reducing emissions.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response from the private sector. We are working with proponents of 17 projects, offering an additional 1,000 MW of installed energy generation valued at $2.4 billion and offering up to 2,300 jobs during construction,” she explained.

The need for qualified builders could also have a positive effect on trades-based apprenticeships in Queensland. According to the Department of Employment, several construction occupations are in high demand across the state, including bricklayers, joiners and fibrous plasterers.

Ms Palaszczuk said the government has embraced renewables, with projects in biomass, wind and solar already confirmed. She said the state has opened the doors to investment, which will no doubt bring new jobs to Queensland.

Solar energy is particularly promising for the Sunshine State, and the Palaszczuk government has partnered with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to build 60 MW of large-scale solar schemes. Meanwhile, Ergon Energy is planning to develop a further 150 MW.

Meeting the RET

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is an Australian government initiative that aims to deliver 23.5 per cent of the country’s electricity generation from sustainable sources by 2020.

Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey claimed the 17 shortlisted renewable projects in the state could contribute to meeting the RET. He stated Queensland has excellent renewable energy resources, as well as a government that is keen to use them.

“In the past, Queensland’s RET liability was mostly met on the spot market. It meant rather than support homegrown solar and wind projects, we have been propping up wind farms in southern Australia,” he said.

However, by focusing on Queensland-based sustainable energy initiatives, the state’s economy can directly benefit. Mr Bailey explained the move would help fight climate change and create various job opportunities in Queensland.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 88 per cent of the state’s full-time employment in renewable energy activities was dedicated to solar projects in 2013-14.

One of the largest influences on solar power growth in Queensland was the introduction of a feed-in tariff in 2008. The Solar Bonus Scheme paid households 44 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy they sold back to the grid. The initiative closed to new applicants four years ago and was replaced with an 8 cents per kWh alternative.

By Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator

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