The result of elections in the Australian state of Queensland is expected to bring reassurance to the country’s renewable energy sector, after preliminary results showed a win for Labour.
During the election campaign the Queensland Labour party said it was committing A$50 million to the state’s first solar thermal with storage project and aiming for 50% of Queensland’s energy to be renewable by 2030.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the renewable energy would be a mixture of solar and wind, with battery and pumped hydro storage.
The policy promise was in contrast to the Liberal National Party’s promise to build a new coal-fired power station in the north of the state. During the campaign Palaszczuk pulled back on earlier pledges to back a huge coal mine, constructed by Indian company Adani, in north Queensland.
The final result of the election is still unclear with counting continuing on Monday 27 November, although Labour is predicted to win a slight majority or take enough seats to have a working minority government.
Energy law expert Kate Terry of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “Assuming Labour gets a majority, the election results are reassuring news for the renewables industry. Queensland has championed a pipeline of large scale solar projects.
“To see this momentum continue will be encouraging not just for industry participants in Queensland but also for more large scale development across Australia,” Terry said.
The news from Queensland follows intense focus on the Australian energy market this year. In June Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel said in a report the country should adopt a single, nationally agreed plan to manage its national electricity market and to help the transition to lower emissions.
In October the federal government put forward a series of energy market reforms, known as the National Energy Guarantee, which would require energy retailers, and some large energy users, to meet a reliability target of dispatchable energy from ready-to-use sources, while meeting an emissions target set at a level that will enable Australia to meet its international climate change commitments.
However the Labour party, which is in opposition in the federal government, said the plan was focusing on reliability at the expense of meeting the renewable target proposed by Finkel earlier in the year.