Solar energy farm

Following community consultation, the Queensland Government released the Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap, which outlines the pathway for the development of renewables in the state.

The Queensland Government’s Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap (REZ Roadmap) is a framework that details the rollout of renewable energy infrastructure over 12 proposed renewable energy zones (REZs) across the state.

In line with the state’s goal of reaching 80 per cent renewable energy capacity by 2035, the plan would see the strategic connection of approximately 22GW of new grid-scale renewable energy over three phases.

After assessing and incorporating stakeholder feedback from the draft REZ Roadmap, the new framework was unveiled in March 2024 and was enacted into law in April 2024. The Queensland Government said that the REZ Roadmap will be updated every two years in partnership with communities, and notes that future REZs may be identified in order to meet Queensland’s growing household energy needs and to support future industries

A coordinated development strategy

An REZ is an area that is strategically planned to coordinate and connect multiple clean energy generators, like wind and solar projects, to optimise the development of network infrastructure. 

When identifying an REZ, natural resource availability, existing grid infrastructure, and environmental, community and economic implications are all taken into consideration and these factors have also informed the timeline for the development of these zones outlined in the REZ Roadmap.

The development of an REZ involves comprehensive planning for associated ports, roads, bridges, waste management, water, workforce, housing and other elements that are fundamental to the coordinated development of grid- scale renewable energy. By using this coordinated approach to the energy transformation, these zones are better able to reduce costs and minimise the overall footprint of development to improve local outcomes.

Meeting renewable energy targets

The Queensland Government has outlined renewable energy targets of 50 per cent by 2030, 70 per cent by 2032 and 80 per cent by 2035. However, in order to achieve these targets, the Queensland energy system needs six times more large-scale wind and solar generation by 2035 than is currently operating in the state.

This is where REZs have a pivotal role to play. There is already a strong pipeline of renewable energy projects in Queensland, but REZs allow for improved coordination in connecting these projects, as well as facilitating better outcomes for communities, environment, and industries.

The REZ Roadmap outlines the following as potential benefits of a coordinated REZ approach to renewable energy:

  • Lower electricity costs for consumers the Queensland Government estimates that the efficiency savings through coordinated REZ development, forward planning and economies of scale in connection infrastructure could lower the state’s household electricity bills. 
  • Reduced impact on local communities early planning allows for regional opportunities, local infrastructure needs and potential impacts to be identified and managed in the initial stages of development. The new framework also aims to enhance stakeholder engagement and better equip communities as partners in REZ development.
  • Support for Queensland’s economy and new investment opportunities the identification of the 12 potential REZs supports new investment in renewable energy projects, which in turn creates long-term employment opportunities. The Queensland Government anticipates that REZs will create approximately 4,000 renewable energy construction jobs.
  • Improved Environmental outcomes the proactive and careful approach to assessments outlined in the REZ Roadmap aims to identify environmental issues and opportunities upfront. These assessments will investigate a range of factors including waste management, environment, First Nations considerations, and other land issues. The outcomes from these assessments will then inform strategies for mitigating environmental impacts and maximising benefits from renewable energy development. 

Empowering communities

The Queensland Government said that landholders, local stakeholders, councils, and the broader community – including farmers, small business and residents of regional communities – will be put at the core of how renewables are rolled out in their region. 

The REZ Roadmap outlines the steps that the government is taking to ensure that these communities reap their fair share of the rewards from the energy transition, and to encourage project developers to invest in benefits for local communities.

The Queensland Government also said that in response to stakeholder feedback it will also review how it could better manage community concerns and complaints about large-scale energy infrastructure development.

In line with its Local Energy Partnerships (LEP) framework, the Queensland Government plans to roll out several initiatives designed to amplify local voices as part of the energy transformation, including:

  • Expanding the role of the GasFields Commission Queensland to renewables.
  • Promoting the coexistence of renewable energy, agriculture and other industries in communities.
  • Enhancing stakeholder engagement and better equipping communities through the energy transformation.
  • Partnering with local councils to support engagement with the energy transformation.
  • Working with the Office of the Coordinator General to facilitate renewable energy development.
  • Reviewing planning frameworks for renewable energy to ensure efficient assessment pathways and growing acceptance of projects by the community.

The Queensland Government also said that it will continue to use existing mechanisms – such as the Local Economic Opportunities Network –  in order to streamline consultation and ensure coordinated community engagement.

As part of the expanded role for the GasFields Commission Queensland, the Queensland Government plans to establish independent Community Leader Councils to provide input on coexistence challenges for energy and support coordinated energy planning.

Another key aspect outlined in the REZ Roadmap is the establishment of local reference groups for each specific REZ community. Members of these groups will include local stakeholders and businesses, landowners, and cultural representatives. A Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate will also be put in place to work with communities in order to maximise job and training opportunities in the energy industry.

Implementing REZ Readiness Assessments

The preparation of REZ Readiness Assessments is also outlined in the new framework. These assessments are designed to identify strategies for maximising the opportunities and managing potential local impacts of REZ development.

REZ Readiness Assessments will occur at a strategic regional level as well as at a detailed local level for each of the potential REZ locations where needed. These will help to identify local infrastructure needs and opportunities based on a holistic view of the REZ and pipeline of projects in the area.

Once concluded, the outcomes from these assessments will then be used to inform strategic mapping and analysis, as well as other work across government. The Queensland Government said that it will work closely with communities to ensure that local input underpins the assessments and subsequent recommendations.

The Queensland Government said that measures for mitigating local impacts will be delivered in partnership with Powerlink and the Office of the Coordinator-General – with the goal of improving coordination and facilitation as well as increasing programs of work.

As part of the delivery of the REZ Roadmap, the Queensland Government has committed $6 million to commence the Central Queensland Strategic REZ Readiness Assessment in the first half of 2024, and the Strategic REZ Readiness Assessments for North, Far North and Southern Queensland in late 2024. Following feedback that regional communities need additional assistance to make the most of the state’s energy transition, the government has also allocated $20 million from the Regional Economic Futures Fund (REFF) to support the outcomes of the first REZ Readiness Assessments.

How is a REZ developed?

The REZ Roadmap defines four distinct stages to developing a REZ. Queensland’s energy needs, as well as the needs and interests of communities, landholders, investors and First Nations people will inform the rate at which each individual REZ moves through these stages.

Stage one: planning REZs with communities

The first stage kicks off long-term planning for potential REZ locations and involves engagement with communities and the renewable energy sector to assess the suitability of an area for REZ development. 

Several factors are considered when determining whether a location could be a potential REZ, including investor interest, alignment with broader system transformation and compatibility with other land uses. 

Once a potential location has been identified, it will be incorporated into the REZ Roadmap as well as the SuperGrid Infrastructure Blueprint, which is updated every two years.

This stage involves:

  • The Queensland Government undertaking strategic REZ Readiness Assessments by engaging with communities to understand the suitability of potential REZ locations and how best to support the social, environmental and economic needs of regions.
  • Renewable energy developers engaging with landholders and surrounding community, assessing financial viability, and conducting planning and environmental assessments.
  • Powerlink working with renewable energy developers to gather information about projects located around potential REZs. This information will help inform the development of a proposed REZ Management Plan.

Stage two: consultation and declaring a REZ

This stage involves formal consultation with communities on a draft REZ Management Plan for a specific REZ. As part of this process, the Queensland Government may also commission a Detailed REZ Readiness Assessment to understand and plan for the immediate local needs of the host community. Following extensive consultation, the REZ will be formally declared to commence development.

This stage will see:

  • The Queensland Government working with local stakeholders, establishing local reference groups, and engaging on Detailed REZ Readiness Assessments.
  • Powerlink consulting on a draft REZ Management Plan, including the eligibility criteria that will be used to select participating renewable projects in the REZ.
  • Renewable energy developers engaging with the community to progress project development assessments; providing feedback on the draft REZ Management Plan; and negotiating connection agreements with Powerlink to connect into the REZ.

Stage three: construction and operation

At this stage, construction and operation of the REZ will commence, including the required network infrastructure upgrades and renewable projects. 

During this stage communities can expect to see:

  • The Queensland Government implementing REZ Readiness initiatives.
  • Powerlink engaging with REZ host communities and the local reference groups to progress final network design as well as the construction, connection, commissioning and operation of the REZ.
  • Renewable energy developers finalising projects by engaging with landholders and the community, securing financing, finishing planning and environmental assessments, and completing construction.
  • Local reference groups engaging on local priorities through construction and operation.

Stage four: commissioned

At this final stage, the REZ is now fully operational and all connecting projects are completed.

This stage involves:

  • The Queensland Government supporting communities throughout the REZ lifecycle and continuing to engage with local reference groups including ongoing opportunities.
  • Powerlink operating the REZ in line with the lifecycle of different network and connecting assets.
  • Renewable energy projects in the REZ operating and considering decommissioning or reinvestment in line with the REZ Management Plan and project approvals. Some projects may extend their operating life through reinvestment, while others may decide to decommission as guided by statutory conditions and market conditions.

The phases of REZ development

According to the REZ Roadmap, REZs in Queensland will be developed over three phases:

Phase one (2022–2024): this phase will focus on early pilot zones in areas with available network capacity or that require limited transmission investment to unlock high investor interest through scale efficiencies in connections. 

Phase two (2024–2028): during this phase, development of renewable generation will expand to match local demand and new zones in Queensland will be unlocked to increase renewable energy generation

Phase three (2028–2035): in this timeframe, development will support further network enhancements and the expansion of renewable generation to decarbonise the electricity system. It will also aim to power growing industrial demand from hydrogen export, industrial electrification and begin the electrification of broader energy demand in Queensland.

The 12 identified REZs

A total of 12 potential REZs in Queensland have been identified across Southern, Central and Far-North Queensland. These zones will be developed over the three phases to connect up to 22GW of renewable energy generation projects.

REZs in Southern Queensland

Queensland’s south, including the Darling Downs and Wide Bay Burnett regions have unique advantages and opportunities for REZ development; five potential REZ have been identified in this region, which are expected to deliver a combined total of up to 12,200MW of renewable generation.

There are two REZ currently underway, Southern Downs REZ and Western Downs REZ, which are expected to generate 2,000–2,600MW each. A further two REZs are forecast to be delivered during phase two: the Woolooga REZ, which is expected to have 1,800–2,400MW of installed generation; and the Darling Downs REZ, which would add 1,600–2,000MW of generation. The fifth REZ, scheduled to be delivered during phase three, is the Tarong REZ, which would add 2,000–2,600MW of generation.

REZs in Central Queensland 

With its diverse and expanding economy, Central Queensland is strategically to benefit from the energy transformation. There are four potential future REZs in the region, generating an estimated 1,400 direct construction jobs during development and attracting further investment into the region. 

Phase one will see the delivery of the Callide REZ and Calliope REZ, which are expected to contribute 2,000–2,600MW and 1,500–2,000MW respectively. The final two REZs at Isaac and Capricorn will be delivered during phase two, and are each projected to contribute 1,400–1,800MW.

REZs in North and Far North Queensland

The Northern parts of Queensland are expected to be home to at least three REZs; the Far North Queensland REZ is already underway, and is expected to generate 500–700MW of renewable energy.

A further two potential REZs are forecast for phase two, the Collinsville REZ (1,600–2,000MW) and the Flinders REZ (2,000–2,400MW). 

The Queensland Government said that this roadmap outlines the state’s vision to foster thriving communities and a clean energy economy through the development of Renewable Energy Zones. It also outlines the Government’s focus on ensuring that communities, landholders and First Nations people are at the centre of the renewable energy rollout.

To read the full REZ Roadmap, visit 

Related articles

©2024 Energy Magazine. All rights reserved


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?