Miles Launches Townsville Renewable Energy Zone Pilot

Minister for Energy and Clean Economy Jobs The Honourable Mick de Brenni
  • New Miles Government initiative to triple solar rooftop generation
  • Local power made by locals, stored by locals, used by locals, with fewer emissions
  • New Premier Steven Miles' first budget is investing $40 million in the Townsville pilot project, putting North Queensland rooftops at the centre of the renewable energy transition
  • The LREZ pilot project will investigate how units and renters can share in using the power from local rooftops and batteries – and participate in the transition

More Townsville households than ever before will soon be able to get back the energy they generate throughout the day, for use at night, bringing down energy bills and emissions.

A Local Renewable Energy Zone (LREZ) will be established in Townsville, to help the community generate more renewable energy, store it and share it locally across the electricity infrastructure that already exists.

Working hand-in-hand with Energy Queensland's local network-connected batteries, LREZs will allow the benefits of renewable energy to be shared amongst all customers, especially those who haven't been able to invest in solar power, for one reason or another.

That includes renters, vulnerable customers and those who live in unit complexes.

The LREZ will work by allowing households with rooftop solar to transfer the energy they generate during the day into local batteries, to be transferred back to additional households during the night time, when the sun isn't shining, but energy usage is at its peak.

That means households that have not previously had access to cheaper electricity generated through rooftop solar will now be able to access the benefits.

The Miles Government will fund $40 million for the Townsville LREZ pilot project which will see the deployment of up to 8.4MW/18.8MWh of battery storage and support up to an additional 2.8MW of solar PV, and 0.9MW of demand management.

The benefits will be shared across residential and commercial customer sites in Townsville, starting from January 2025.

This is one of two LREZ projects funded in the Miles Government State Budget, following the announcement of the Caloundra LREZ last week.

The Government funding includes $3 million to optimise the size of behind the meter customer assets such as solar PV, batteries, home energy management systems and dynamic connections for the Townsville LREZ pilot project.

Energy Queensland has also received the go-ahead for another 18 local network-connected batteries which will play a major role in the transition to help deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy for future generations.

The Miles Government committed $240 million in the Budget to build the 18 new local network-connected batteries across the state.

The funding package will also provide a major boost to local manufacturers and suppliers in many communities throughout the state.

The new batteries will make up Stage 5 of the Energy Queensland battery program and will build on the success of the previous stages, which has seen 30 local network-connected batteries and three different flow battery systems built, or currently under construction, across the state.

As stated by Energy and Clean Economy Jobs Minister Mick de Brenni:

"Just like public ownership of Queensland's energy assets, the LREZ project will put control of energy into the communities hands.

"This initiative, which has been championed by local members in North Queensland and the Smart Energy Council, is only possible because collectively Queensland owns their energy distribution system – something only Labor is committed to.

"This exciting LREZ initiative, which is the first of its kind in Queensland, puts everything on the table, including more affordable power, access to the benefits of rooftop solar for renters, innovative network solutions. But the one thing it won't put on the table, is the LNP's plans for privatisation of Queensland energy assets, or the harmful, radio-active waste the LNP plan on dumping up and down Queensland's pristine coastline."

As stated by Member for Townsville Scott Stewart:

"Regional Queensland is already playing an enormous role in capturing the State's solar potential. We are investing more into ensuring we harness as much as possible through this new LREZ pilot.

"We know there is a huge uptake of rooftop solar in Townsville which is this pilot is important.

"The transition to renewable energy is key to keeping power prices down across Queensland. Thanks to innovative renewable projects like the LREZ pilot Townsville will be at the heart of the renewable energy transformation."

As stated by Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper:

I will always fight to ensure that all Thuringowa locals are empowered to join the journey towards clean energy. These Local Renewable Energy Zones will lead the way in ensuring that the transition is customer driven and accessible to all households, including renters.

LREZs will support the growth of communities up here in Thuringowa, promoting a clean energy economy and allowing the Townsville region to power Queensland to achieve its renewable energy goals.

As stated by Member for Mundingburra Les Walker:

LREZs will help stimulate business opportunities and job growth within the clean energy sector by encouraging businesses to invest in rooftop solar, in turn promoting further development in solar installation, battery manufacturing, and EV charging infrastructure.

The LREZ pilot offers innovative network solutions which will increase the benefits of and accessibility to rooftop solar for renters all while making power more affordable.

As stated by Energy Queensland's Chief Engineer Peter Price:

"By progressively transforming the Energy Queensland network into local renewable energy zones, we will be able to triple the capacity to connect residential rooftop solar to our electricity networks," Mr Price said.

"Just like how customers with roof top solar manage their home appliances to make the most of using their own generation before exporting it to the network, an L-REZ aims to achieve the same thing at a community level, by co-ordinating the energy among all the local community members and businesses to maximise the energy value at a community level before exporting it out to the transmission network.

"Our L-REZ pilot projects in Townsville and Caloundra will provide invaluable insights to how customers at the centre of a smart, integrated electricity network and will pave the way to support Queensland's energy transition.

"Our local network-connected batteries, coordinated with home battery systems, hot water, solar and EVs, will enable Queenslanders to become active participants in our shared energy system.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise our electricity grid putting the customer at the centre and deliver the clean energy we need to achieve these renewable energy targets.

"We have the rooftop space and the capacity within the electricity network to do this quickly.

"This mix of customer-owned and network-owned batteries could deliver the peaking power equivalent to a coal fired generator. Already Queensland has over 5GW of solar connected to Energy Queensland's distribution networks which is more than three times the size of the largest coal generator."

"Importantly, as the appointed Distribution System Operator for the state, Energy Queensland will play a pivotal role in developing dynamic connection opportunities for residents and businesses, to maximise exports from their renewable energy resources.

"The Distribution System Operator function allows us to bring everything together – solar PVs, the utilisation of EV chargers, behind-the-metre products at a customer premises, network-connected batteries and tariffs for customers – all with the intention of providing a more sustainable electricity network for Queensland."

Quote from John Grimes. Chief Executive Smart Energy Council

"The Local Renewable Energy Zone is an innovative, nation leading concept.

"LREZ puts cost of living relief at the centre of energy policy and households at the heart of the energy market."

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