Submission on Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill

Should electricity generation targets be set into legislation, and should the same legislation centralise bureaucratic power in the minister’s office, as well as dictating exact levels of public ownership of power generators and electricity networks?

Our answer is emphatically “No,” and this was the gist of our submission to the Queensland Parliamentary Transport and Resources Committee. (To download the submission please click here).

The proposed act will be legally fraught, giving conservation groups and others the opportunity to sue the government if targets aren’t met. One reason targets are unlikely to be met is the degree to which the approvals process for new power generation and transmission infrastructure projects is centralised in the minister’s office rather than an independent authority.

The targets will certainly not be met for a variety of other reasons. They mandate that 50% of Queensland’s power generation must be renewable by 2030, 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035.

Currently renewables make up just 15% of Queensland’s power generation. The targets would mean that over the next 6 years 35% of extra generation infrastructure would need to be built, and in the two years after that a further 20%. All this at the same time we are building new hospitals, fresh infrastructure for the Olympic Games, and badly lagging in the fight to provide enough housing for all who need it.

It would in fact be worse for us if it could be built because there would not be adequate storage in the system. There are a number of pumped hydro schemes that have been identified, and which will be able to operate at scale, but they are not likely to arrive until well-after 2030.

No storage will mean an unreliable and barely functional grid, or require a build-up of gas-fired power stations that will ultimately not be needed when the pumped hydro comes on stream, or lastly, subsidies to keep our existing coal-fired power stations running to fill the considerable gaps that will occur.

Our submission concludes by observing that there is no need for Queensland to hurry. There is no climate crisis, and a large number of scientists, as well as the evidence, attest to this.