Green energy advocates say that the answer to cheaper and cleaner energy has been blowing in the wind for years, and the federal government has finally caught on.
A wind farm precinct will cost $160 million to connect to the grid.
Already, work is being done on the infrastructure.
Chris Bowen says it will “press down” on electricity prices.
The Queensland Conservation Council says that this week’s news that the federal government will pay to connect the Southern Renewable Energy Zone to the national electricity market is a big deal.
“The government is finally making it clear that we are switching to renewable energy,” said the director of the council, Dave Copeman.
“It was a political football for too long. And that meant investors had no idea what would happen.
Mr. Copeman said that the “lack of certainty” had hurt the pocketbooks of people in Queensland.
“Our electric bills went up… “This decision means that power will be cheaper and cleaner in the future,” he said.
“Wind and solar power don’t have fuel prices, and they don’t go up and down when there are international crises.
“The more you build, the less it costs each time.”
On the Southern Downs, the Macintyre wind farm precinct, which is one of two projects in the Southern Renewable Energy Zone, should be running by 2024.
Fossil fuels’ last nail in the coffin?
The New Acland Coal Mine is in the town of Acland, which is not too far from the Southern Renewable Energy Zone.
The mine’s owners want to grow their business.
But Mr. Copeman said that the government’s decision to pay to connect renewables to the grid sent a message to the fossil fuel industry.
“If you want to invest in fossil fuels in Australia, now is not a good time to do so,” Mr. Copeman said. “The government has made it clear that we want to cut emissions.”
Ian Macfarlane, the CEO of the Queensland Resources Council, denied that the decision would have any effect on how the mine will be run in the future.
He said, “There’s really no link, and to use the Prime Minister’s words, we should mine as long as there’s a need.”
Mr. Macfarlane said that the sector was glad to see more reliable renewables come online, but that coal and gas producers still had a place in the future.
Even the best wind farms and solar farms only make electricity about 40% of the time, Mr. Macfarlane said, so there is still a real risk that we won’t be able to depend on electricity.
Vic Pennisi, the mayor of Southern Downs, said he was just glad no one had said anything bad about the wind turbines.
“There were a lot of complaints when we were building a solar farm,” he said.
Vic Pennisi says that the wind farm has been well received in his town.
“At the moment, I don’t know of any complaints about the [wind farm] project,” he said.
He said that everyone in the community would be able to see the long-term benefits.
“There’s the building phase and the maintenance phase, but that’s not all. It’s what you do with the power that will bring in more money,” he said.
He said that the great weather in the area was one reason why it was being called Australia’s future energy capital.
He said, “You need wind and sunshine, and we have both of those. We also have the smallest difference between hot and cold temperatures, which could also be a reason.”