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Scott Morrison’s Government Conflicted On Energy: Queensland

The Queensland government forges a $373 million wind farm passed up for a loan by the federal government earlier this month.

SYDNEY — The Queensland government says it will back an AU$373 million ($289 million) wind farm denied a loan by a federal government “hopelessly conflicted on renewable energy.”

Keith Pitt earlier this month used his ministerial veto power to stop an AU$280 million ($217 million) loan to the Kaban Green Power Hub for a 157-megawatt wind farm and 100-megawatt battery.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) had recommended the far north Queensland project receive the financing.

Queensland Energy, Renewables, and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni claim that the state will invest AU$40 million ($31 million) in upgrading transmission lines to support the Kaban project.

The investment will help provide certainty because the federal government is “hopelessly conflicted” on renewable energy.

“The Morrison government turned their back on this project — rejecting the 250 jobs it will create for workers,” Brenni said in a statement on May 21.

“Federal Minister for Northern Australia Keith Pitt personally vetoed the NAIF loan in an attempt to block more renewable energy in Queensland.

“The Morrison government is hopelessly conflicted on renewable energy, even going so far as to ignore large-scale storage in the region to veto Kaban under the guises of dispatchability.

“Federal minister Keith Pitt’s veto announcement just doesn’t stack up.

Minister Mick de Brenni says the state will invest $40 million in upgrading transmission lines to support the Kaban project. (Dave Hunt/AAP Image)

“Only Labor at both state and federal levels offer energy policy certainty to investors, businesses and Queensland workers.”

He has further tweeted about the same, claiming Pitt tried to cancel job-creating wind farms because he didn’t inform anyone about the policy. “Keith Pitt tried to cancel a job creating a wind farm in North Queensland because of a policy he didn’t tell anyone about – and now it appears he can’t even explain how batteries work,” read the tweet.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk claims that the transmission line upgrades would open up the region to further renewable energy projects.

She also claims that along with the Kidston Pumped Hydro Storage Project, the Kaban project keeps the state on track to get half its energy needs provided by renewables by 2030.

“Renewables create jobs and put downward pressure on power prices,” she said.

“That’s why backing our renewables sector is an important part of our economic recovery plan.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuksaid, the Kaban project keeps the state on track to get half its energy needs provided by renewables by 2030. (Darren England/AAP Image)

“We know that projects like this will create jobs and ease cost-of-living pressures for working families.”

Pitt would not confirm when asked repeatedly if the loan would cover the battery, which would store wind-generated power so it could be dispatched when needed.

He would not say how much battery storage was needed for him to consider the project dispatchable.

“How big is the battery? Is it an AA battery, is it a very large battery, is it a small battery, does it run one house?”

The NAIF has previously loaned money for multiple energy projects, including gas, hydropower, and a hybrid solar and gas plant.

The Kaban project has been put forward by Neoen, the company responsible for South Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve — the largest lithium-ion battery in the world.

Kaban has a power purchase agreement with Queensland government-owned CleanCo to support the state’s 50 percent renewable electricity target by 2030.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Pallavi Mehra. Map by Urvashi Makwana.)