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Estimates: Question to CleanCo on publicly owned renewable energy

During the Parliamentary estimates hearings on 7 December 2020, I asked CleanCo about the proportion of their investments going towards publicly owned renewable energy.

You can read the answer below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I have a question for CleanCo. I want to begin with one quick point of clarification. When the Renewables 400 program was announced, the Premier indicated that that program which CleanCo is managing was separate from and additional to CleanCo's own 1,000 megawatt target by 2025; is that still the case?

Dr Schweizer: That is correct.

Mr BERKMAN: Turning then to that full 1,400 megawatt target, of those 1,400 there is currently only a plan for 18 wind turbines, or 100 megawatts, to be publicly owned. Public ownership comprises only 1/14th of the new renewables generation CleanCo is contributing to. The government has committed to maintain the proportion of public ownership in Queensland's energy system as renewables come online, but isn’t it the case that CleanCo's current renewables commitment, that 1/14th of public ownership, is well below that goal?

Dr Schweizer: I thank the member for the question.

CHAIR: Dr Schweizer, some of these questions may go across to government policy decisions, but as far as the financing of CleanCo that is within your purview, just answer it within that perspective.

Dr Schweizer: Thank you for that clarification, chair. I perhaps could provide some colour on the commitments we have already made and then leave the rest of the comment to government as it regards policy. To date we have identified and committed to 932 megawatts of that 1,400 megawatt target of which 400 is the outcome of that renewable process. As the member correctly pointed out, 100 megawatts of that will be publicly owned in the form of the Karara wind farm and the other 830 megawatts will be contracted from privately developed solar and wind developments to CleanCo. The remaining 470 or so megawatts to be found are not yet identified and therefore could have any ownership structure.

Mr BERKMAN: One more quick follow-up, if I may chair? CleanCo's mandate is to support new, clean energy. If CleanCo is not building, owning and operating an asset for the most part but simply investing in purchasing power from private projects, it is a bit harder to be sure that the capacity is additional to what would have been built otherwise. So the question is: how does CleanCo determine that the projects it is supporting are actually additional rather than things that the private sector would have gone through with anyway?

Dr Schweizer: I thank the member for the question. Part of the definition of our target is that it is a new renewable project. It is one that is enabled to go ahead because of our investment. If I take the example of the MacIntyre wind precinct, which includes 930 or so megawatts in addition to our 100 megawatt wind farm, because of our contract with ACCIONA to purchase 400 megawatts of wind energy from that precinct, we significantly expanded the total size of the precinct. Originally it was planned at just under 600 megawatts, and now it is over 1,000 megawatts. We can trace that back specifically to the commitment that CleanCo made to be the off taker of that wind energy.

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