Australia’s coal state makes USD40bn push into renewables

Queensland is looking to accelerate a shift into cleaner energy, envisioning 100,000 jobs by 2040.

The sunny and sparsely populated Australian outback in Queensland has potential to become "a renewable powerhouse" of wind and solar farms. The photo depicts outback in Western Australia. | Photo: Paul Mayall/AP/Ritzau Scanpix

Queensland, the Australian state at the heart of the nation’s USD 63bn coal export industry, has announced a major shift into renewables as part of a massive program focused on clean energy and jobs.

The plan would involve investment of AUD 62bn (USD 40bn) from 2022 to 2035 to help unlock 22 gigawatts of clean energy capacity, eight times the current level, the state government said Wednesday. The state plans to increase its Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund by AUD 2.5bn to AUD 4.5bn to meet new goals, including getting 80% of its energy from renewables by 2035.

Queensland still gets most of its power from burning coal, and is also one of the world’s biggest suppliers of the fuel. Like other states on Australia’s east coast, it has been plagued by faults in its aging power infrastructure that led the nation’s main grid to take the unprecedented step of temporarily suspending the spot power trading market in June.

The state is now looking to accelerate a shift into clean energy such as solar and wind, taking advantage of Australia’s potential as a renewable powerhouse thanks to its sunny climate and sparsely populated outback. Queensland’s plan also envisions the creation of 100,000 jobs by 2040 and the construction of as much as 7 gigawatts of pumped hydro power, including what could be the world’s largest such project, according to the statement.

“The great state of Queensland has produced much of Australia’s energy for many, many decades and will continue to produce much of Australia’s energy for many decades to come, and indeed become a renewable energy superpower and part of our export capacity,” Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen said Wednesday in Canberra.

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