Winds of the North to Power Cairns to Net Zero

Published Tuesday, 06 December, 2022 at 04:12 PM

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Member for Cairns Michael Healy MP with CleanCo CEO Tom Metcalfe and Cairns Regional Council Deputy Mayor Terry James

Member for Cairns Michael Healy MP with CleanCo CEO Tom Metcalfe and Cairns Regional Council Deputy Mayor Terry James

In a leap towards achieving its commitment to net zero, Cairns Regional Council has signed an historic agreement with publicly owned CleanCo Queensland that will see 80 of the Council’s largest facilities acquire 100 percent of their electricity requirements from renewable sources from July 2024.

In Cairns today, Member for Cairns and Assistant Minister for Tourism Michael Healy said this was exactly the type of initiative that would push the Far North to net zero by 2050 and will be enabled by the Palaszczuk Government’s Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

“By 2032, it means 70% of Queensland’s energy supply will be renewable – taking real action on climate change and allowing more deals like this one to decarbonise Cairns and Far North Queensland,” Assistant Minister Healy said.

“Facilities to be powered under this agreement include Cairns Performing Arts Centre, Cairns City Library, Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, and the wastewater treatment plants.

This deal is equivalent to the energy consumption of approximately 4,000 North Queensland households each year,” he said.

The majority of the renewable energy that underpins the agreement will be supplied locally by the Kaban Green Energy Hub near Ravenshoe.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the agreement with CleanCo is good news for our entire region as it supports local jobs in the renewable energy sector and reinforces the region’s clean and green reputation.

“As the guardians of two World Heritage-listed natural environments – the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest – it is our responsibility to do all we can to protect these assets and our lifestyle by taking action on climate change,” Cr Manning said.

“Renewable energy is critical to Council achieving its target of net zero emissions by 2030 and the deal with CleanCo puts us firmly on that path,” he said.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni said the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan will be the biggest investment in clean energy and emissions reduction in Australia’s history.

“Far North Queensland has world-class renewable energy sources, and through publicly owned corporations like CleanCo, we are making those resources available to support our industries and communities to decarbonise,” the Minister said.

“Cairns Regional Council will be the first local government in Queensland to sign a clean energy supply agreement with CleanCo.

“The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan also reduces household and business electricity emissions by 96% by 2040 and will help protect the reef, take action on climate change and respond to worsening natural disasters,” he said.

CleanCo CEO Tom Metcalfe said CleanCo’s portfolio has a unique mix of flexible, low-emission firming capability mixed with wind and solar generation which allows the company to offer reliable, competitively-priced clean energy to large-scale energy users.

“Our portfolio of low-emission and renewable energy generators allows us to deliver clean energy solutions that will help our customers thrive in a net zero future,” Mr Metcalfe said

“We have a number of generating assets here in north Queensland and I am proud that we are able to use these locally operated generators to provide locally sourced renewable energy for Cairns,” he said.

The agreement with CleanCo builds on Council’s existing three megawatts of on-site solar and provides Council with access to affordable renewable energy and stable pricing.

The agreement is also underpinned by renewable energy generated by the Western Downs Green Power Hub solar farm located west of Chinchilla.

CleanCo has offtake agreements with both the Western Downs Green Power Hub and the Kaban Green Power Hub. Both projects are being delivered by Neoen and are expected to achieve full operations in the first half of 2023.