Report: Energy transition happening in Australia’s ‘engine room’ but Central QLD needs back-up

21.09.22 By
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CENTRAL QUEENSLAND communities have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to embrace a major transition to renewables and clean industries, but need more support, according to a new poll and report released today. 

The YouGov poll* reveals half of voters in the country’s ‘engine room’ – the Flynn electorate (Gladstone, parts of Rockhampton and Bundaberg) agree regional areas will benefit most from the uptake of renewables. However, only two in 10 believe their community is getting enough support to prepare for a future without fossil fuels. 

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents aged under 35 want the government to prioritise investment in renewable and clean industries over coal and gas. 

The poll coincides with the launch of a new report ‘Australia’s Clean Engine Room: Central Queensland’s Industrial Future’. 

The Climate Council report reveals that accelerating investment and development in renewables and clean industries could create new export industries, add billions to the local economy and unlock tens of thousands of new jobs, while protecting existing manufacturing jobs. 

Kahn Goodluck, Deputy Mayor of Gladstone Regional Council and former boilermaker said: “Failure is not an option. Our workers and their families’ livelihoods depend on it. It’s not just about capitalising on the opportunities that come with new industries such as hydrogen but also about decarbonising our existing industries and protecting, sustaining and even growing those jobs in a post 2050 world with net zero emissions.

“As a region with a proud industrial heritage we need to ensure we plan and adapt for the changes that are coming in a rapidly decarbonising economy. We have some of the biggest industry players in the world but we can’t leave it to industry and business alone, we need government policies and investment that support success.”

Amanda Cahill, CEO of The Next Economy said: “Central Queensland is incredibly well placed to benefit from the transition. It has abundant solar and wind resources but also has an industrial base, so we can use that energy to power manufacturing. It’s ticking all the boxes as an economic powerhouse.

“There are lots of economic opportunities for Central Queensland and we’re seeing that come to fruition through renewable energy and the storage that needs to be built, green hydrogen, green chemicals and manufacturing the parts to make these, but also through helping existing industries like aluminium to decarbonise.

“I’ve seen a huge shift over the last 18 months: people are seeing the opportunities the energy transition can bring, but also the risks of not managing change well. So we’ve gone from conversations about whether it’s happening to more detailed planning to work out how to manage change and to ensure the community benefits.” 

Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor, leading economist and former Partner at Deloitte Access Economics said: “The Climate Change Act 2022 is a welcome starting gun in the race to get emissions plummeting this decade, and sends a clear investment and industry signal – that Australia is open for sustainable business.

“There are currently over 5.6 gigawatts of battery, solar and wind projects announced in Central Queensland, which could see its renewable energy capacity increase by almost 20 times and create close to 9,000 jobs. 

“Now state governments need to act quickly to ensure regions like Central Queensland can continue to capitalise on the world’s clean energy shift and lead in industries such as green steel, renewable hydrogen, critical minerals and battery manufacturing. 

“With the right leadership and support, Central Queensland could be transformed into Queensland’s clean engine room.” 

Central Queenslanders are ready to lead this economic transformation, now the Federal and Queensland governments must: 

*YouGov poll, commissioned by the Climate Council, of 402 adults living in the Flynn electorate conducted August 2022. 

For interviews please contact Kate O’Callaghan on 0406 231 892 or Brianna Hudson on 0455 238 875. 

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

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Cameron Smith, Head of Manufacturing at Fortescue Future Industries, Location: Perth, WA

“Gladstone is the perfect place for us to establish our Green Energy Manufacturing centre. It has a large port with excellent capacity, a skilled workforce, and an almost unlimited ability for industry to expand to the north and west of the town, all reasons why the location makes sense for us.

“Ultimately, our competitors are not other green industries. Our competitors are fossil fuels. Renewables will become cheaper than fossil fuels and the second they do that, fossil fuels are gone and we’re doing something better for people, better for the environment and we can demonstrate how to do it commercially.”

Rob Williamson, Chief Operating Officer of Gladstone-based high purity alumina manufacturer Alpha HPA, Location: Brisbane, QLD

“The expectations of global manufacturers to decarbonise their operations is rapidly increasing. Alpha HPA produces the lowest emissions, high purity aluminium materials available in the market today which are critical ingredients in products like lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and e-mobility, as well as LED technology.

“Alpha HPA is about to start production at our new industrial plant in Gladstone, with Stage One employing 34 locals, while our Stage Two operation will employ a further 120 people reaching full-scale production by 2025.

“I’m excited to see this region and its top-notch people really lead the transition to the new, green economy.”

Vincent Dwywer, co-founder of Energy Estate, which is jointly developing the Central Queensland Power Project, a 4GW portfolio of integrated solar, wind, storage and transmission infrastructure, Location: Sydney, NSW 

“We envisage that the Central Queensland Power Project will facilitate the transition of the region’s power supply towards firmed renewable energy and in doing so, secure the future for heavy industry in the region.

“The Moah Creek Renewable Energy Project is the first part of this. We aim to create jobs, deliver low cost clean energy and support the competitiveness of the region’s existing heavy industry.”