Queensland powers towards becoming the solar state

Queensland’s rapidly advancing renewable energy sector continues to power the transition from the Sunshine State to the Solar State.

Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply Mark Bailey said a steady rise in the average number of rooftop solar installations and the Palaszczuk Government’s response to an inquiry into a fair price for solar showed Queensland was at the forefront of embracing renewable energy.

“According to the latest data from our solar tracker, Queensland has more than 1,600 megawatts of installed solar generation capacity which means more than 426,000 Queensland homes are now enjoying the benefits of solar rooftop electricity generation,” Mr Bailey said.

“November’s peak of almost 16MW of solar generation capacity installed represents a 33 percent increase on the year-to-date monthly average.

“The four-month period from August to November included four of the five best months during 2016 for the number rooftop solar installations in Queensland.”

Mr Bailey said Queensland was now more than half-way towards the Palaszczuk Government’s 2020 solar target of 3,000 megawatts of installed solar generation capacity.

“We came to government with a clear commitment to renew the state’s uptake of solar energy, which is an important part of achieving our 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030,” he said.

“Queensland already has one of the highest penetrations of rooftop solar panels in the world, and that solar rooftops combined are the second largest power station in Queensland.

“Queenslanders clearly have an appetite for renewable energy, and the continued uptake of solar brings clean energy to our grid, and supports jobs of the future,” he said.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Queensland Productivity Commission’s (QPC) final report delivered on the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitment for an inquiry into a fair price for solar.

“The QPC looked at the public and consumer benefits from exported solar PV generation, including social, economic and environmental benefits,” Mr Pitt said.

“They also looked at a fair price for solar that does not have an unreasonable impact on electricity network costs for non-solar users.

“Overall, the QPC found that the current price Queensland solar customers are receiving for their solar power is fair.”

Mr Pitt said the Government’s response to the QPC’s inquiry included making different feed-in tariff (FiT) options available to more Queenslanders.

“The Government will encourage the uptake of solar in regional Queensland by increasing the size of systems eligible for a FiT from five kilowatts to 30 kilowatts,” Mr Pitt said.

“This provides incentive for regional businesses and larger households who currently would not receive a FiT to install a larger system, because they will be paid for their excess energy.

“Additionally, those who already have larger systems installed will also receive the FiT.

“This change will require amendments to regulation which are expected to occur in the first half of 2017.”

Mr Pitt said the Palaszczuk Government’s energy policies were aimed at driving price stability to electricity consumers following the 43 per cent increase in power bills under the Nicholls-Newman government.

He said under Labor, our first two years of government had seen average annual electricity price increase for households of just 1.2 per cent.

Mr Bailey said another key reform to be initiated by the Government was the introduction of an optional time varying feed-in tariff (T-FiT) in regional Queensland.

“The optional T-FiT, which will complement the existing flat rate FiT, offers solar customers more market reflective prices with lower rates in off-peak times and a higher rate during a daily peak period,” Mr Bailey said.

“The T-FiT can provide additional value to households who are able to take advantage of a peak price being introduced.

“The Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) will determine the new T-FiT rates in mid-2017 after a public consultation process.

“The Government supports the QPC’s recommendation that the existing competitive arrangements for FiTs will be maintained in South-East Queensland.

“We will have the QCAmonitor FiT offers in the south east to ensure the market continues to provide a fair price.

“Queenslanders clearly have an appetite for renewable energy and the Government’s response to the QPC’s final report underlines our commitment to renew the state’s uptake of solar energy.”