Solar capacity across Queensland’s residential roofs is now greater than that of Queensland’s largest coal-fired power station, energy minister Mark Bailey has announced.

Speaking at the Energy Users Association of Australia conference on Wednesday, Mr Bailey said as of the beginning of May there was 1.7 gigawatts of solar installed in Queensland across 438,000 residential roofs. In comparison, the largest fossil fuel plant is the Gladstone Power Station at 1.68GW.

“This means that our rooftops are the largest generation capacity in the state,” he said.

Queensland currently has the highest installed capacity of residential solar PV in Australia (31 per cent of total, with NSW next at 22 per cent), and one of the highest penetration rates in the world at about 30 per cent.

The goal is to increase the number of roofs with solar to one million by 2020, which would represent 3GW of installed capacity.

Mr Bailey said commercial, industrial and large-scale solar were also helping to make the grid cleaner.

“Large scale projects such as the 25 megawatt Barcaldine Solar Farm are beginning to feed into our grid and more large scale projects will start to come online as a result of the Palaszczuk government’s Solar 150 initiative, including the Whitsunday Solar Farm, Kidston Solar Project, Oakey Solar Farm and the Longreach Solar Farm.

There is a total pipeline of just over 1GW financially committed, which is seeing $2 billion in investment and the creation of 2000 jobs.

“This additional generation will also help put downward pressure on electricity prices,” Mr Bailey said.

He said the government was committed to a 50 per cent renewables target by 2030.

A report by a Queensland Renewable Energy Expert Panel to establish a “credible pathway” to the target has been finalised and handed over to the government. A response is due later this year.

Trial for solar public housing announced

The Queensland government this week also announced a trial of solar PV on two public housing estates in Rockhampton and Cairns being led by Energy Queensland, and is calling for expressions of interest for the design, installation and servicing of the systems.

“We’re seeking expressions of interest from partners who can supply, install and maintain solar PV systems for a preferred contractor panel, with successful applicants invited to tender later this year,” a statement from minister for housing and public works Mick de Brenni said.

Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne said the trial would support those who couldn’t afford solar.

“This project will allow for reduced electricity bills for vulnerable customers who cannot afford or have access to solar PV systems,” Mr Byrne said.

“Importantly the trial will also offer opportunities for businesses which specialise in solar products and can supply solar PV materials as well as design, install, maintain, clean and provide quality assurance services.

“Suitably qualified contractors will be engaged in the local region to undertake the work. They will have a proven capability and capacity to deliver projects as outlined in the expression of interest documents in an area of the market previously untapped.”

Mr de Brenni said it would help to reduce barriers to solar in the rental market.

“Up until now, the uptake of rooftop solar has been limited in the rental market in Queensland, which includes half a million properties,” he said.

“Through this trial, government can also develop a workable model for the private rental sector, creating opportunities for every Queenslander to enjoy cheaper electricity while helping to grow the state’s renewable energy sector.”

The scope of the work for each discipline covered under the EOI includes but is not limited to:

  • Supply of Solar PV Materials
  • Design and Installation of Solar PV Systems
  • Maintenance of Solar PV Systems
  • Cleaning of Solar PV Systems
  • Quality Assurance of Solar PV System

The EOI closes on Monday 29 May. Further details can be found here.