The Queensland Government has stalled its plans to set up CleanCo, a state-owned clean energy company that was due to be established in the first half of this year.
Recommendations for the restructuring of the state’s existing generators to accommodate CleanCo were also due in the first half of this year, though state budget papers now show this timeline to have been stretched, saying that a government taskforce has been set up to “investigate the establishment of CleanCo”.
The pause in plans comes despite the government’s delivery of a state budget for the venture, which was itself supported by a record-breaking surge in international coal prices.
Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad said the coal royalties boosted the state’s annual budget surplus by around $1bn more than what was predicted six months ago, with the mines bringing in around $3.8bn in royalties this year. Estimates suggest they will bring in a further $3.5bn in 2018-2019.
Though the surplus will enable government funding of renewable initiatives, it also underlines the extent to which Queensland still relies on mining, and raises some questions over how successful the state’s transition to clean energy sources will be.
The budget papers also highlighted the growing popularity of renewables in the state, with planned construction projects anticipated to bring in “over 3,500 construction jobs”.
However, members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) have called attention to the fact that too few of these jobs are going to local tradespeople. ETU secretary Peter Ong said companies are instead choosing to use “unlicensed overseas backpackers” for renewable installation projects.
CleanCo was first proposed in the June 2017 ‘Powering Queensland’ plan which called for the establishment of “an affordable, secure and sustainable energy supply”, and which is due to receive a portion of the $1.16bn set aside in the state budget for renewable energy initiatives.
It was pitched as a government-owned green energy company that would operate renewable generators and develop new hydroelectric, gas and clean energy projects. It is hoped that the corporation will help the state attain its 50% renewable energy target by 2030.
Other green initiatives in the state include an upcoming waste levy, due to begin in January 2019. This will see a fee of $70 per tonne of waste dumped in landfill, and is intended to deter the import of waste from interstate to Queensland and enable the adoption of a waste-to-energy model.
Earlier this week, the Queensland Government announced that it will set aside $100m for the tariff. The fund will be available to private companies and local governments, intended to help them find eco-friendly ways of curbing mounting waste levels.