Wivenhoe Dam

The Queensland Government has committed to developing the world’s largest pumped hydro scheme, in its $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

The scheme will see the construction of a new dam in the Pioneer Valley near Mackay, capable of supplying half of Queensland’s energy needs with clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy.

It is just one of the commitments made in the Government’s $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, which outlines new renewable targets including:

  • 70 per cent of Queensland’s energy supply from renewables by 2032 and 80 per cent by 2035
  • Two new pumped hydros at Pioneer/Burdekin and Borumba Dam by 2035
  • A new Queensland SuperGrid connecting solar, wind, battery and hydrogen generators across the State
  • Unlocking 22GW of new renewable capacity – eight-times higher than current capacity
  • Publicly owned coal fired-power stations converted into clean energy hubs to transition to, for example, hydrogen power, with jobs guarantees for workers
  • Queensland’s publicly-owned coal-fired power stations to stop reliance on burning coal by 2035
  • 100,000 new jobs by 2040, most in regional Queensland
  • 11.5GW of rooftop solar and 6GW of embedded batteries
  • 95 per cent of investment in regional Queensland
  • Building Queensland’s first hydrogen ready gas turbine

Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, said the two new pumped hydro facilities would be bigger than the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme.

“We will use cheap solar electricity during the day to pump water up the mountain to store it. Then at night we can release the water to generate electricity. It’s like a giant battery.”

Two projects leading Queensland’s energy future

As part of the Energy and Jobs plan, the Queensland Government will establish the publicly-owned entity Queensland Hydro to progress the two hydro projects.

A cornerstone of the landmark Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan includes progressing the development of the largest pumped hydro energy storage project in the world to power Queensland into the renewable energy era.

“The Pioneer-Burdekin mega project, west of Mackay could be the largest pumped hydro project in the world, with potential generation capacity 2.5 times that of Snowy 2.0,” Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said.

“It has the potential to deliver up to 5GW for 24 hours or 120GWh, given the favourable topography of the area.

“That’s 617 times larger than South Australia’s Hornsdale battery and 20 times larger than Wivenhoe.

“The high-quality wind and solar resources across North Queensland means it could also unlock large volumes of renewable energy capacity for local industry.

“This makes the region even more attractive for global investment in emerging industries like green hydrogen, green metals and manufacturing.”

Queensland Treasurer, Cameron Dick, said publicly-owned entity Queensland Hydro would ensure Queenslanders continue to reap rewards from their publicly owned energy assets.

“Since 2018, the Queensland Government has delivered up to $575 of dividends to Queensland electricity customers via asset ownership dividends and cost of living rebates,” Mr Dick said.

“All that money – $1.19 billion – has gone back into the pockets of Queenslanders instead of corporate shareholders.”

Storage to deliver reliable and clean energy

Queensland Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, said this storage system and the other one being progressed at Borumba Dam near Gympie will be like giant batteries that can dispatch reliable power on demand.

“Queensland will require at least 6GW of long-duration storage to maintain the security and reliability of the state’s energy supply into the future,” Mr Miles said.

“At potentially 7GW, when combined with our other site, our pumped hydro projects could deliver this.

“They will store energy when the wind blows and the sun shines, and make this power available when they don’t.

“Development of grid-connected long-duration pumped hydro storage will provide the market and public with confidence about Queensland’s ability to deliver reliable and affordable clean energy.”

Projects to deliver more than just energy

Queensland Energy and Procurement Minister, Mick de Brenni, said the project, proposed to be constructed well clear of protected areas, also offered significant supply chain and economic opportunities for the greater Mackay region.

“There’ll be a huge pipeline of work from concreting to catering, logistics to landscaping, and refuse to roadworks–that’s all before building the powerhouse itself,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Our Buy Queensland procurement initiative ensures that our investments drive economic, environmental, and social outcomes that benefit local economies.

“It’s a policy that will keep taxpayer dollars circulating in the Mackay region, creating jobs and investing in the local economy.”

Queensland Hydro will conduct further studies and deliver a detailed assessment for the Pioneer-Burdekin project to the State Government in 2024.

This will include consultation with traditional owners and the community, hydrological modelling and assessment of environmental and social impacts, as well as commercial and financial modelling.

Queensland Hydro will also continue to investigate other large-scale, long-duration pumped hydro sites in the event the project is unable to proceed.

Queensland Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure and Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, said the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan would be a jobs bonanza for the region.

“This plan forecasts over $7 billion in additional renewable energy investment in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsundays region by 2040, adding to the $1.5 billion invested in the region since 2016,” Ms Gilbert said.

“This plan will leverage our existing investments in the Mackay Manufacturing Hub and the Mackay Resources Centre, as well as the Commonwealth-funded Mackay Electric Vehicle and Energy Training Centre at the Central Queensland Mackay Ooralea campus.

“The abundant renewable resources nearby also mean that existing mining operations can decarbonise and be globally competitive well into the future.

“The ports at Abbot Point, Mackay and Hay Point are already attracting interest from early movers who recognise their potential for hydrogen storage and export.”

The Energy and Jobs Plan is available to read and download, here.

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