QUEENSLAND is expecting a job boom from its solar energy projects but all hopes are dimmed by funding cuts of more than $1 billion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The Federal Government plans to do this through its Omnibus Bill, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said.
ARENA has 10 major solar proposals in Queensland on its books. ACF’s research finds that if these projects are funded, they could create 2,695 direct jobs.
“Big solar could mean a jobs boom for the sunshine state, but the federal government’s proposed cuts to ARENA’s funding mean these projects might never be built,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
The government’s proposal to cut ARENA’s budget and remove its grant-making function would stifle innovative clean energy projects and jobs.
Solar projects in the region expects to transition energy source form coal. Besides, the 10 major solar proposals on ARENA’s shortlist would create 2,695 direct jobs.
While funding cuts loom large, ACF is wary of Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, which will employ an estimated 1,400 people while creating 4.7 billion tonnes of carbon emissions over the mine’s lifetime. The coal mine also poses risks to the 70,000 jobs that rely on a healthy Great Barrier Reef, O’Shanassy says.
ACF is presently awaiting a verdict in its Federal Court challenge to the approval of the Carmichael mine. In the court case, ACF argued the Federal Environment Minister’s approval of the mine was inconsistent with the Australian government’s international obligations to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
“Parliamentarians who really care about long-term sustainable jobs in Queensland would be doing everything they can to make sure these projects become a reality – and that means protecting ARENA,” O’Shanassy said.
“The real future for Queensland is in renewables, not coal. Queensland politicians who talk up jobs in coal, but do not speak up for jobs in solar, are not representing the best interests of Queenslanders,”she added.
ACF urges the federal government and opposition to support clean energy jobs in Queensland by reinstating funding and grant-making powers to ARENA.