Roadmap for solar power in Queensland

A new study indicates Queensland has all the necessary elements to become an international leader in commercial-scale solar power, including solar resources that are comparable to the best found anywhere in the world.

Premier Anna Bligh today welcomed the initial findings of the Government’s study into potential of large-scale solar energy generation precincts in regional Queensland.

Ms Bligh said the government, in partnership with the William J. Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative, commissioned Parsons Brinckerhoff to prepare the Queensland Concentrating Solar Power prefeasibility report.

"The Government funded the study to examine the opportunities and challenges of deploying large-scale solar power plants in Queensland," Ms Bligh said.

"The Government is committed to transitioning Queensland to a clean energy future and I understand that we are one of the first governments in the world to undertake such a comprehensive study.

"The Government is drawing on the international experience of the Clinton Climate Initiative in providing support to encourage the development of commercial scale solar power projects in the state.

"With expert advice from the Clinton Climate Initiative, we commissioned Parsons Brinckerhoff to undertake a pre-feasibility analysis of the technical, environmental and financial potential of large-scale solar generation precincts in regional Queensland."

The key findings of the Parsons Brinckerhoff report include:

• the quality of Queensland’s solar resource is comparable to the world’s best solar resources;
• deploying large-scale solar thermal projects in Queensland is technically and environmentally feasible;
• co-locating projects within a ‘precinct’ concept might assist the economic viability of projects through shared infrastructure costs (including transmission) and streamlined and expedited approvals processes; and
• combining solar power with other energy sources such as existing fossil fuel generation (often referred to as hybridrisation) might assist the economics of deploying first of a kind commercial scale solar power technology.

Ms Bligh said the quality of Queensland’s solar resource is superior to that of regions such as Nevada in the United States and Granada in Spain, where large-scale solar generation is already being commercially deployed.

"These two locations are well known as current world leaders in solar thermal development and we now know Queensland can match them," she said.

"We also better understand what it takes to deploy large-scale solar power stations in Queensland’s solar rich regions, including central and North West Queensland and the Surat Basin.

"This information will assist industry in determining locations that might best suit their solar solutions and investment aspirations. This is another demonstration of our commitment to pave a way for a more resilient and less emission intensive electricity future."

Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said the outcomes of the report will guide the planning of renewable energy development in the State including the development of Renewable Energy Priority Zones – as outlined in the Government’s Queensland Renewable Energy Plan (QREP).

"It is well known that a major barrier to the deployment of large-scale solar generation in Australia is the cost of connecting to the electricity network," he said.

"As part of our overall research focus, we continue to examine these complex network issues.

"This project represents a substantial investment in the future of solar energy in the state and delivers on a key commitment of our QREP and ClimateQ strategy to address the challenges of climate change."

Mr Ira Magaziner, chair of the Clinton Climate Initiative, said the results of the study into the opportunities for generating solar power in Queensland on a large-scale and the progress made so far by the Queensland Government are encouraging.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the Government as it works towards establishing its first solar precinct," Mr Magaziner said.

The William J. Clinton Foundation launched the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) to create and advance solutions to the core issues driving climate change. Working with governments and businesses around the world to tailor local solutions that are economically and environmentally sustainable, CCI focuses on three strategic program areas: increasing energy efficiency in cities, catalysing the large-scale supply of clean energy, and working to measure and value the carbon absorbed by forests. In each of these programs, CCI uses a holistic approach to address the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions and the people, policies, and practices that impact them. CCI is the delivery partner of the C40, an association of large cities around the world that have pledged to accelerate their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.