Qld Assistant Min. McCallum given huge challenges – 50% renewable energy by 2030 and hydrogen economy

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has given one of her government’s rising stars, Lance McCallum, MP for Bundamba, the huge and arguably near impossible task of overseeing the achievement of the 50% renewable energy target by 2030. Yesterday, McCallum was appointed as Assistant Minister for Hydrogen Development and the 50% Renewable Energy Target by 2030 (see this media release). Regardless of the large amount of renewable energy capital investment Queensland expects over the next decade, the 50% target will very likely not be achieved.

As Tony Moore reported in August in his Brisbane Times article Queensland warned it will fall short of 50 per cent renewable target:

Green energy groups have cast doubt the Queensland government can meet its commitment to provide 50 per cent of the state’s energy from renewable energy sources in 10 years’ time.

However, they are confident it will be able to provide more than one-third of Queensland’s energy needs by 2030.

I think the green energy groups Tony Moore refers to are correct. Adept Economics Research Officer Ben Scott and I investigated this issue last year and reached the same conclusion as Green Energy Markets, which has been forecasting that Queensland won’t reach the 2030 target for a while now (see our post Queensland’s Renewable Energy Target Alive but Only Just). Renewable energy generation is certainly growing rapidly, but 50% by 2030 was just too ambitious a target.

I’ve always been sceptical of the Government’s target, partly based on the years I spent in state and federal bureaucracies, regularly reporting on policy targets that governments had set and had either failed to achieve or had no chance of ever achieving. My former colleagues in Queensland’s Employment and Training department will probably remember the Finn target for year 12-equivalent attainment as an example of an aspirational target never achieved in the timeframe set.

The other big challenge that Assistant Minister McCallum has been set is to oversee the emerging hydrogen economy. Hydrogen certainly offers a lot of potential, but we’re still in the early stages of the development of a hydrogen economy, and it’s unclear whether so-called green hydrogen will become a cost-effective source of energy. For further information on hydrogen projects in Queensland, check out this recent post I co-authored with Adept Economics Research Assistant Taylor-Rose Hull: What’s going on with the so-called hydrogen economy?

Finally, if you’re interested in energy issues, check out this upcoming ESA Qld webinar on the impact of renewables on the National Energy Market (Spoiler: they’re not good for the NEM and we need to figure out a solution) and also Brian Fisher’s chat with Menzies Research Centre Director Nick Cater: Step on the Gas.

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