We announced the first stage of developing the Northern QREZ with a commitment of $40 million for network upgrades to unlock up to 500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy potential in Far North Queensland.
This investment will upgrade transmission lines between Cairns and Townsville to support new projects in the north, tapping into world-class wind resources in the region and improving the security of energy supply to Cairns.
Far North Queensland has some of the strongest wind and solar resources in Australia. In particular, wind is often blowing while solar farms are ramping down or not generating, helping to balance the system.
Kaban wind farm
The first Northern QREZ project is Neoen Australia’s 157 MW Kaban Green Power Hub wind farm worth over $370 million. The construction of the wind farm and transmission infrastructure is expected to support 250 near-term construction jobs, with hundreds of additional jobs in the long-term as the Northern QREZ is further developed.
The Kaban wind farm is backed by an offtake agreement with CleanCo Queensland to buy wind energy to supply some of Queensland’s largest businesses with reliable, globally competitive, low emissions energy.
The Kaban wind farm has already been engaging with local communities about their proposed development.
Early works commenced in May 2021.
The Central QREZ is currently the energy powerhouse of Queensland with long-term hydrogen potential and existing energy-intensive industries which are looking to switch to renewable energy supply.
It is centrally located in a strong part of the network with significant coal-fired generation and proximity to heavy industries near Gladstone.
The region is also home to significant renewable energy resources. Central QREZ received registrations of interest from 67 projects, representing more than for 23,000 MW of project capacity across solar, wind, bioenergy, and storage technologies. If developed, these projects would represent more than $39 billion in investment and thousands of construction jobs.
The region hosts some of Queensland’s largest energy consumers, including the Boyne Island aluminium smelter, refineries, and the Curtis Island LNG export terminal.
There is growing interest in Gladstone for its potential in renewable manufacturing opportunities, especially hydrogen, ammonia, and renewable aluminium production near the Port of Gladstone.
Additional prospective new industries could include:
- energy-intensive minerals processing
- minerals and other recycling
- ag-tech and agricultural equipment manufacturing
- low emission cement manufacturing.
Further analysis is underway on the first stage of QREZ development in this region.
The Southern QREZ is ready for development, with a diverse mix of industries and energy sources and a strong network. It is close to large load centres in South East Queensland and the inter-connector to New South Wales.
This region has a strong electricity network and existing capacity to connect new projects. Finding economies of scale in connections through QREZ development could make this even more attractive for prospective renewable energy developers while unlocking additional capacity.
Excellent wind resources
While investment to date has favoured solar, the region has good wind resources which will complement the existing solar and other generation. It is already home to the state’s largest operating wind project, the 453 MW Coopers Gap Wind Farm, and there is also a strong pipeline of other prospective projects in the area with high investor interest.
There were 72 projects that registered their interest in the Southern QREZ with more than 8,300 MW of wind capacity. The Southern QREZ interest represents over $30 billion investment.
Diverse local economy
The region has a diverse farming industry, with a long history of food and fibre production, supported by large areas of prime agricultural land in the Darling Downs.
Renewable energy in southern Queensland could support growth in agribusiness by diversifying electricity used in agricultural processing facilities. Bioenergy development could make use of agricultural waste products, supporting this industry to decarbonise and reduce energy costs. Another prospective new industry for Southern Queensland that could utilise more clean energy is the electrification of heavy vehicles and the freight network in the region.
Renewables in the region have already found ways to complement other land uses and support a diverse local economy. The first stages of QREZ development will build on this and grow the renewable profile in the region.