Clean Energy Project Abandoned in Queensland

Saturday, December 13th, 2014
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A clean energy project at Australia’s largest dam has been canned because of industry uncertainty around the federal government’s renewable energy target.

Meridian Energy Australia will abandon the Burdekin Hydro Power Generation project in Northern Queensland after blaming “destabilising revisions” to the coalition’s energy policy.

The current RET calls for 20 per cent of Australia’s energy use to be sourced from renewable energy by 2020, specifying that target as 41,000 gigawatt hours.

The political deadlock on the target has come to a head, with Labor walking away from talks on the RET because it won’t accept anything below a target in the high 30,000s.

Meridian Energy Australia CEO Ben Burge says the federal government’s efforts to reduce the RET to about 27,000GWH have made long term investments in the industry nearly impossible.

“This is especially disappointing given the role that the Burdekin project stood to play in enhancing energy security in Northern Queensland, which is expected to emerge as a threat in the medium term,” he said in a statement on Friday.

The 37 megawatt hydro power station at Burdekin Falls Dam stood to meet the growing energy needs of agricultural and mineral businesses of the region.

Mr Burge claims it also would have provided around 150 local jobs -including training for indigenous communities- during development and construction.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Labor’s “strike” on negotiations was sacrificing the sector’s future in a desperate attempt to appease the Greens.

“It is treating the renewable energy sector like mugs and jeopardising jobs in key sectors like aluminium smelting,” he said in a statement.

A report released by the Clean Energy Council estimates the stalemate around the RET will cost the industry more than $400 million each year on already operating renewable projects.

It also found uncertainty would jeopardise $14.5 billion in future investment.

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