Prime Mover Magazine

Government backs reliable energy for industrial users

The Australian Government is focused on supporting new electricity generation projects in central and north Queensland that will reportedly drive down power prices, improve reliability and support a stronger economy.

Through the $10 million Supporting Reliable Energy Infrastructure program, the Government will provide support to two projects to ensure affordable and reliable energy for commercial and industrial customers, specifically for high energy-using and trade-exposed industries in central and North Queensland.

This delivers on an election commitment with grant funding including:

  • Up to $2 million for a pre-feasibility study on Renewable Energy Partners Pty Ltd’s proposed 1.5 gigawatt (GW) pumped hydro-electric plant which is to be developed in conjunction with the proposed Urannah Water Scheme, located between Collinsville, Proserpine and Mackay in Queensland.
  • Up to $4 million to support Shine Energy Pty Ltd’s feasibility study for a proposed 1GW high efficiency, low emissions coal plant at Collinsville in Queensland.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the Australian Government is committed to supporting efforts to drive down prices and bolster system strength.

“The Liberal and Nationals Government is ensuring households, businesses and industries get a fair deal on energy, keeping our economy strong. We are supporting two promising new generation projects to deliver the reliable, affordable power that the North Queensland economy needs to grow and thrive,” said McCormack.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said an independent strategic study has identified system strength is a real concern in central and north Queensland, and new synchronous generation is a priority to meet the energy needs of customers in the region.

“Our plan to unlock investment in new, reliable generation capacity will increase competition, keep the lights on, and lower prices to better support our commercial and industrial sector so they can employ more Australians and remain internationally competitive,” said Taylor.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, said the commitments would help secure long-term energy supplies, which are crucial to economic development and Queensland jobs.

“This investment is laying the platform to help ensure that reliable, cheap electricity is available when it is needed, and will help drive down prices for businesses and their customers across Queensland and Australia,” said Pitt.

“We are delivering on our election commitments and investing in the future with up to $4.0 million to investigate the feasibility of a high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal plant at Collinsville.”

The Government will also allocate up to $1.5 million to work with the Queensland Government and industry on electrifying Curtis Island. A bilateral deal on the electrification of the Curtis Island LNG facilities is a high priority for the Commonwealth Government. Partial electrification could free up to 12 petajoules of natural gas for use in the domestic market which will reduce emissions and lower gas prices.

The recent announcement builds on Government action already underway in regional Queensland to bring down prices and improve reliability, including:

  • A $990,150 grant towards a feasibility study for a microgrid in the Daintree region under the Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund (Microgrids Fund).
  • A $5.17 million grant to support feasibility work for the proposed CopperString 2.0 transmission line, connecting Mt Isa to the National Electricity Market.
  • Up to $610 million conditionally approved loan for the development of the Genex’ Kidston Pumped Hydro Project under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
  • Up to $3 million in grants by ARENA for two hydrogen feasibility studies in Queensland to Nitrates Pty Ltd and Dyno Nobel Moranbah Pty Ltd.
  • A total of $2 million in funding from ARENA for a demonstration of thermal energy storage in Queensland to Glaciem Cooling Technologies Pty Ltd.

Pitt officially joined the ministry on 4 February 2020 and was appointed by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

Since 2013, Pitt held ministerial positions in previous parliaments, firstly as Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister in the Agriculture portfolio, Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and then Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister working in the Infrastructure portfolio.

Before entering politics, Pitt was a tradesman, an engineer, a small business owner and a farmer, bringing practical, common sense experience to the portfolio.

In related news, an industry body welcomes Pitt and thanks Canavan for commitment to resources sector.

(Image: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack.)

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