Over the last thirty years Queensland has lost thousands of jobs in manufacturing as Labor and the LNP allowed crucial manufacturing industries to be offshored. The COVID-19 crisis has proved we should never have allowed Australia or Queensland to lose so much of its manufacturing capacity.
It’s time to revive manufacturing in Queensland. But we can’t leave it up to the private sector. If we want to create the conditions for a thriving manufacturing industry in Queensland where every Queenslander enjoys the benefits, we need genuine public investment.
The Greens will revive manufacturing in Queensland and create thousands of good, secure jobs by establishing thriving solar panel, wind turbine and green steel manufacturing industries.
Queensland can manufacture the steel, solar panels and wind turbines that power not just Queensland and Australia, but the world.
The Greens will establish:
- A publicly owned solar panel factory in Townsville and wind turbine factory in Rockhampton to lay the foundations for a thriving renewable manufacturing industry in North and Central Queensland capable of manufacturing a combined 500MW of wind and solar capacity per year by 2023, creating 1,500 jobs a year
- An aim for a further 1000MW of private solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing capacity by 2027, creating a further 3000 jobs
- A prototype green steel manufacturing plant in Gladstone aiming to begin production within 5 years providing the foundation to establish a green steel industry that will create 15,000 good, secure jobs
Strict local content rules phased in by 2027
- 60% locally sourced manufacturing content for all utility scale wind and solar energy projects by 2027
- No labour hire in the local supply chain
- A Queensland Manufacturing Authority with $1 billion of seed funding to provide low interest loans and grants to fund clean energy manufacturing projects in Queensland
Manufacturing Wind Turbines and Solar Panels
The Greens will build a public solar panel factory in Townsville with a capacity to manufacture 250MW of solar panels per year by 2023, creating 1,100 jobs per year. That’s up to 1 million solar panels a year. The factory will supply the solar panels for the massive renewable energy boom in North Queensland as we transition to 100% publicly owned renewable energy. Currently Australia has one small solar panel manufacturer in South Australia, Tindo Solar, with a capacity to manufacture 60MW of solar panels a year. So while 250MW solar panel factory would be modest by international standards, it would represent a significant advancement in Australia.
The Greens will establish a wind turbine factory in Rockhampton with a capacity to manufacture 250MW of wind turbines by 2023, creating 425 jobs a year. That’s up to 100 wind turbines a year. The factory would cover all components of the wind turbine manufacturing process including towers, blades, nacelles and electronics. This is to ensure that the skill base for the entire manufacturing process is established in Queensland. It would supply wind farm projects based in Queensland and Australia.
The publicly owned and run flagship factories would lay the foundation for the expansion of private industry by establishing stable commercial supply chains, creating a skilled workforce and reducing costs, while ensuring the public retain some of the benefit of these new industries.
The local content requirements for utility scale wind and solar projects will create the conditions for a massive expansion in domestic solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing.
The wind turbine and solar panel factories will be run by a publicly owned and run corporation, with any revenue used to pay off the initial investment before being returned to the Queensland Government and reinvested in Queenslanders.
Australia’s history of wind turbine manufacturing
In the early 2000s global manufacturer Vestas manufactured nacelles and blades in Australia, before moving offshore. The heavy steel processing company, RPG Australia, produced towers. Recently Vestas partnered with the Victorian contractor, Marand Precision Engineering, to establish a turbine assembly and testing facility at the former Ford Geelong manufacturing site. The only other remaining wind turbine manufacturing is carried out by engineering firm Keppel Prince, who fabricate wind turbine towers.
Green steel is a new advanced manufacturing process that produces steel without the need for coal, using hydrogen instead. Whereas coal is usually used as the reductant, instead hydrogen is used with water as the only by-product.
As the world transitions towards a zero carbon economy the demand for green steel is predicted to skyrocket. In fact the Grattan Institute predicts that by 2050 green steel will be a half trillion dollar export market.
The same Grattan Institute report found that Queensland had the potential to establish a $40 billion green steel industry, creating 15,000 jobs a year. To achieve this the report recommended building a flagship green steel project, to “underpin investment in lower-emissions technologies and build the skills and capabilities Australia need to create an export-scale green steel industry”
The Greens would invest $500 million in establishing a publicly owned and run green steel flagship factory in Gladstone, aiming to be operational 2025. Along with establishing the skills and capabilities required for a green steel industry in Central Queensland, a green steel flagship factory would establish the necessary supply chains and provide a local market for green hydrogen projects already touted for Central Queensland.
Queensland Manufacturing Authority
The Greens will establish a Queensland Manufacturing Authority with $1 billion seed funding to provide grants and cheap loans to clean manufacturing projects. The QMA would function similarly to the successful Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has ultimately begun to generate an income for the Federal Government. The QMA would retain an equity stake, or part ownership, over projects it finances, in order to ensure every Queenslander enjoys the benefits of a flourishing private manufacturing industry in Queensland.
How will you pay for it?
The $1.5 billion funding to establish the green steel factory and seed fund the Queensland Manufacturing Authority will be funded by making big mining corporations, developers and banks pay their fair share in tax (https://greens.org.au/qld/plan).
The cost of establishing the solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing plans will be paid off over time by revenue earned from the commercially viable factories. With record low interest rates now is the perfect time to invest in new industries that create jobs and set Queensland up for the future.