New energy grants build on Queensland's renewable energy momentum

New energy grants build on Queensland's renewable energy momentum Main Image

12 April 2024


Minister for Energy and Clean Economy Jobs
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Innovation
The Honourable Leanne Linard

  • Miles Government announces multi-million-dollar commitment to fund energy and environmental measures
  • $2.5 million Queensland solar panel recycling pilot program a national first
  • Almost $3 million for industry leadership in recycling, career development and social license

Thousands of solar panels on Queensland homes, businesses and solar farms will now be recycled at end-of-life and reused for parts, thanks to a nation-leading multi-million dollar investment by the Miles Government.

Almost $5.5 million of funding has today been announced to advance a solar panel recycling pilot and guide better practice in the renewable energy sector by improving industry engagement with communities.

The funds, of which $2.5 million is dedicated to ensuring residential solar panels can avoid landfill and are re-purposed for parts, will enhance the opportunities for regional Queensland communities to directly benefit from renewable energy solutions.

The solar panel recovery pilot will also collect valuable information to help inform the development of a national product stewardship scheme, helping to identify any gaps in Queensland’s recovery and processing capacities.

Almost $3 million has been dedicated to delivering Queensland Renewable Energy Industry Association Grants, allocated to the Smart Energy Council (SEC), the Queensland Renewable Energy Council (QREC) and the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

The grants will support the coordinated growth of the large-scale renewable energy industry and will be put towards backing solar panel recycling programs, landholder support projects, career fairs in regional areas, support for local councils, community engagement, and exploring the potential opportunities for on-farm benefits.

In particular, the grants will enhance the opportunities for regional Queensland communities to directly benefit from renewable energy solutions.

Investment and opportunities in the state’s renewable energy sector have accelerated since the release of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan a year ago.

More than 20 renewable projects are currently being built across the state, and another 170 are in the pipeline.

They include Australia’s biggest battery building program, solar farms, a backbone transmission network, privately and publicly owned wind farms, and one of the biggest green hydrogen projects in the world.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy Mick de Brenni:

“Not only is today’s announcement about saving solar-panels from landfill, but importantly, it means creating opportunity for jobs and economic growth in Queensland.

“With up to five locations in metro and regional Queensland set to host the pilot, we expect to see a significant uplift in opportunity to create new jobs in recovery and processing activities.

“Through its $1 billion solar panel manufacturing plan, the Albanese Government has provided the start of the line for solar panels, while today’s announcement by the Miles Government means we provide an end-of-life plan.

“I commend those leading the way in the renewable energy sector, and especially acknowledge the work of the Smart Energy Council for its innovation in proposing this program.

“Queensland is well positioned to lead the clean energy revolution and take advantage of our state’s natural resources with the help of these industry bodies.

Quotes attributable to Environment Minister Leanne Linard:

“Queensland is the Sunshine State, so it’s no surprise we have the highest rooftop solar penetration in Australia. It’s something we should be proud of and continue to build on.

“The increasing use of solar panels on our homes and businesses is also helping Queensland meet its ambitious climate change goals, which is great news for our iconic natural environment.

“The solar panel recovery pilot will identify the best path forward in recycling solar panels once they have reached their end of life or have become damaged.

“The Miles Government is pleased to partner with the Smart Energy Council, who will manage the pilot.

“I’m heartened by the enthusiasm of the industry and local councils to get involved.  Now we’re going to test how to make this work in a practical sense. I’m particularly excited by the enthusiasm of regional Queensland to trial solar panel recycling, and we will focus our efforts there.”

Quotes attributable to Smart Energy Council Chief Executive John Grimes:

“Queensland is not only the Sunshine State and the Solar State, it is now also the Solar Panel Recycling State.

“Queensland is the only State in Australia to have a plan for the recycling and stewardship of residential, commercial, and large-scale solar panels.

“The large-scale solar industry knows it must have a strong product stewardship scheme if it is to maintain a strong social licence to operate.

“The Smart Energy Council congratulates the Queensland Government on its ongoing national leadership in solar uptake and solar stewardship."

Quotes attributable to Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton: 

“The Queensland Government has a vision for the future of renewable energy and is providing tangible support to ensure its success.

“As a direct result, Queensland is reaping the benefits of regional jobs and the economic prosperity that renewable and storage projects inevitably bring to communities.

“I’d like to thank the Queensland Government for its steadfast support for our industry.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Renewable Energy Council Chief Executive Officer Katie-Anne Mulder:

“Queensland’s renewable energy industry is pleased to work alongside government and other local stakeholders to maximise the regional economic benefits from our state’s energy transition.

“We are committed to working with renewable energy project developers, investors, suppliers and service companies to meet our renewable energy targets and drive regional economic development for Queensland.

“We will continue to work with communities and other industries to ensure we implement streamlined and coordinated processes that bring certainty of investment to industry and communities.”

On the grants:

Smart Energy Council (SEC) 

Funding includes support for:

  • A large-scale PV recycling pilot to ensure appropriate drop-off sites and distribution to resource recovery, reuse and recycling facilities in Queensland.
  • The establishment of a Commercial and Industrial Solar Consultative Committee.

Clean Energy Council (CEC)

Funding includes support for:

  • Regional Careers for Net Zero Fairs in 2024 to showcase and promote local job opportunities in the clean energy economy.
  • Free online industry training on social licence to support delivery of energy infrastructure projects in Renewable Energy Zones.
  • Queensland clean energy stories showcase showing real life jobs in the energy sector in regional communities.  

Queensland Renewable Energy Council (QREC)

Funding includes support for:

  • Annual industry survey to collect Queensland data to guide better practice with results to be published in the QREC Annual State of the Sector Report.
  • Local government engagement in Renewable Energy Zones to understand local needs and support communities to participate in the energy transformation .
  • A Community engagement and Benefit Sharing Renewable Energy Developer Guide.
  • Queensland-wide Landholder Support Project for renewable energy.
  • Investigation and development of opportunities for on-farm benefits of hosting renewable energy.
  • Fit-for-purpose health and safety frameworks developed from engagement with members, government and unions.
  • Safer Together industry group to facilitate sharing and collaboration of safety and health improvement, advancements and incidents.
  • Assessment and Approvals Toolkit to outline how to navigate assessment and approval pathway.
  • Proactive industry and regional engagement in Renewable Energy Zones on coexistence and ensuring communities benefits from the energy transformation.