The Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (QREZ) is ready for development, with a diverse mix of industries and energy sources. It is close to ‘large load centres’ in South East Queensland and the inter-connector to New South Wales. (‘Large load centre’ refers to an area where lots of energy is required and used, including manufacturing hubs or industrial precincts.)
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 megawatt (MW) Coopers Gap Wind Farm, and there is also a strong pipeline of other prospective projects in the area with high investor interest.
From a QREZ registration of interest process undertaken in 2020, 72 projects registered interest in the Southern QREZ representing more than 8,300 MW of wind capacity and more than $30 billion in investment potential.
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.