Coal-Heavy Queensland Commits $2 Billion to Clean Energy Jobs

The Energy Mix
Working on solar panels - /Pikist

June 13, 2021

Australia’s fossil-heavy state of Queensland is committing A$2 billion to create what Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called a “self-reinforcing cycle of investment—a job-generating clean energy industrial ecosystem”.

Queensland was not too long ago seen voting decisively to help re-elect the country’s climate-denying national government, then extinguishing Aboriginal title to support construction of the intensely controversial Adani coal mine. 

But now, in what Palaszczuk described as a “watershed moment” for Queensland’s economic development, the state will invest to “help develop a clean hydrogen industry, mine minerals needed for solar panels, build hydrogen plants, batteries, and electric vehicles, and increase manufacturing across the renewables supply chain,” The Guardian reports.

Palaszczuk said the public investments in renewable energy production would have to be paired with local manufacturing. “That means not just mining the minerals for batteries and renewables in Queensland. It means processing the minerals and making batteries and renewables here as well,” she said. “I want to see hydrogen electrolyzers built locally, and local assembly of wind turbines and solar panels, because that means local jobs.”

“There is no reason why solar panels, electrolyzers, batteries, wind farm components, and new technology can’t be manufactured right here in Queensland,” agreed Energy Minister Mick de Brenni. “This fund will create a pipeline of demand for local manufacturing across the entire value chain, and that means more jobs for Queenslanders.”

After the announcement Thursday, “environment groups said the announcement would push the state’s economy away from fossil fuels and put Queensland in a position to be a clean energy leader,” The Guardian writes. But they also called on the state to improve on a 2030 climate target that calls for only a 30% emissions reduction from 2005 levels—and that the state is in danger of missing.

“Climate change is a real and serious threat to our way of life, so as well as boosting renewables capacity, Queensland needs to get out of coal and gas,” said Australian Conservation Foundation climate campaigner Jason Lyddieth. “We need a plan to look after the workers, communities, and families who will be most affected by the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels.”

“It’s the right start for Queensland and I feel we are on the right track with this investment,” added Peter Ong, divisional branch secretary with the Electrical Trades Union. “It is important to remember this is only the first step in a just transition to renewables.”

[Top photo: /Pikist]