A Fraser Coast renewable energy guru believes local politicians should be pushing for renewable energy projects as a jobs driver post COVID-19. PHOTO: File.
A Fraser Coast renewable energy guru believes local politicians should be pushing for renewable energy projects as a jobs driver post COVID-19. PHOTO: File.

Green energy could provide jobs boom after COVID-19

GREEN energy projects should be top of mind for politicians when it comes to repairing the damage to employment numbers in the wake of COVID-19.

This is the view of Fraser Coast renewables guru, Greg McGarvie, who believes renewable energy, especially solar, brings with it a host of benefits that should not be ignored.

Large-scale development projects such as wind and solar farms have the potential to reduce harmful emissions released into the environment and stand to create thousands of construction jobs along the way.

"Regional centres stand to become responsible for their own power generation and there would be no reliance on international oil suppliers - we have the sun," Mr McGarvie said.

The managing director of ACE-EV and the man behind the Teebar Solar Farm, as well as Australia's first manufactured electric vehicles, made the comment after renewable energy advocates Solar Citizens released the results of their recently commissioned analysis into the positive spin-offs of more than a hundred proposed projects across Queensland.

The analysis conducted by Green Energy Markets suggested more than 51,000 construction jobs could be generated if the 108 proposed projects became realities.

Solar Citizens estimated 6100 of these jobs would be based in the Wide Bay Burnett region if 16 local projects were given the green light.

Among those is the massive Forest Wind project earmarked for development on state forest land between Gympie and Maryborough.

The project was awarded development approval by the State Government earlier this year.

Solar Citizens claimed the local projects alone would generate enough energy to power 750,000 homes, create 250 operational jobs and massively improve carbon dioxide savings.

However, Mr McGarvie warned builds were long, slow processes.

The number of new jobs would also be dependent on how many projects were approved.

Solar Citizens' national director Ellen Roberts said clean energy projects would help boost the economy but claimed developers were facing "mountains of hurdles" and were turning to other states.

"For Queenslanders to get a bigger slice of the jobs and investment pie, we need the federal and state governments to step up and remove some of the barriers stopping new projects from getting off the ground," she said.

Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said there needed to be an energy mix during the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

Mr Saunders said the latter was a great long-term plan but everyday power demands still needed to be met.

"I will back renewable energy all the way, but there must be real jobs and the process must be viable and good for the environment," he said.

He said procurement policies would also mean local workers and businesses would be the first in line.

Federal MP for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien believes the Queensland government already has the power to proceed on such projects as it owns and manages electricity infrastructure and sets planning laws.

Mr O'Brien said he was keen to support energy generation projects that would provide affordable and reliable electricity, were capable of powering homes, businesses and industry and did not become a burden on Australian taxpayers.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham ensured communities the state was well on its way to achieving its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

"Queensland is undergoing a renewable energy revolution that will see 20 per cent of our energy capacity from renewables this year," Dr Lynham said.

Some $385 million has already been invested in the Wide Bay Burnett region, resulting in 440 construction jobs.

Dr Lynham said the transition to renewables had identified various challenges across Australia's power grid and these were being addressed at state level.

He said jobs and business opportunities for regional Queenslanders, downward pressure on bills and reduced emissions would result from the state government's energy policies.



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