Queensland to invest hundreds of millions in battery export industry that could employ thousands | Renewable energy

Thousands of Queenslanders could soon be employed in a globally competitive grid-scale battery export industry, with the state committing hundreds of millions in backing for the sector.

Centre for Future Work director, Jim Stanford, said the state’s shift towards long-unfashionable “industry policy” was “absolutely the right direction” for the entire country, not just Queensland.

He said the policy was not 60s-style protection, but just “good economic and social policy”.

“If you want to build and maintain support for the energy transition, you have to show people that there’s an upside to it. And the upside is good, sustainable jobs. Otherwise, the false arguments that ‘if you protect the environment, you’re going to destroy employment’ will win the day,” he said.

The centre released research last year warning the country was at risk of missing out on a global manufacturing boom due to a lack of government investment in the sector – particularly after the multitrillion-dollar US Inflation Reduction Act.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in interest in active industry policy around the world, tied to the energy transition.”

It’s not the first foray into industry policy in the sunshine state in recent years. The government has previously sponsored programs to build trains, buses and now batteries at home. It also regularly spruiks the state’s nascent green hydrogen sector.

The premier, Steven Miles, announced plans to back the sector on Thursday, which he hopes will be worth $1.3bn by 2030, employing an estimated 9,100 workers.

At a press conference at a Queensland University of Technology battery facility, the manufacturing minister, Glenn Butcher, said: “We need to stop digging up our resources and sending them overseas. We need to be building these batteries here in Queensland.”

The state will spend about $570m over the next five years:

  • $275m to support industry to innovate and commercialise battery technologies, including a new Australian battery industrialisation centre.

  • $92.2m to drive battery investment and supply chain growth, including grants.

  • $202.5m to promote the local industry, including a new state government clearing house.

Miles said Australia could be competitive on price with lower-wage countries like China, partly because the sector was more technology-driven.

“But what we also have is that security of supply,” he said.

“Post-Covid, post the diplomatic challenges some countries have had with China and Russia and the Middle East, they know that they can sign long term contracts with Queensland manufacturers and know that we will deliver.”

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Queensland has a large supply of a variety of critical minerals including vanadium, rare earth minerals, copper, lithium and more.

Stanford said it was time for the federal government to back the states.

“The Queensland government, for a sub-national government, is doing a lot here. And we’ve had the Victorian government and other state governments also trying to try to play an active role in industry policy, but we need the Commonwealth government there.”

The Queensland Conservation Council said as the state’s coal-fired fleet shut down, it would need to replace it with batteries and other renewables.

“It’s exciting to see that this strategy includes $275m for battery innovation. We know emerging technologies, such as vanadium and iron flow batteries, have unlimited cycle life and have a long duration of between 8 and 14 hours,” renewables campaigner Stephanie Gray said.

“Queensland has a natural clean energy advantage, but to secure new manufacturing opportunities we need policy certainty and bi-partisan support.”

Read More:Queensland to invest hundreds of millions in battery export industry that could employ thousands | Renewable energy

2024-02-22 09:05:00

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