Caloundra, QLD

The Queensland Government has announced it will fund a $40 million local renewable energy zone (LREZ) trial at Caloundra, designed to help the community generate more renewable energy.

Working with Energy Queensland’s local network-connected batteries, LREZs are designed to allow the benefits of renewable energy to be shared amongst all customers, especially those who haven’t been able to invest in solar power, such as renters, vulnerable customers and those who live in unit complexes. 

The LREZ will work by households with rooftop solar transferring the energy they generate during the day into local batteries, to be transferred back during the nighttime when energy usage is at its peak. 

The Queensland Government said it will invest $40 million for the Caloundra LREZ pilot project, expected to 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 Caloundra, starting from January 2025. 

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

The funding package is expected to 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 are expected to 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. 

Queensland Premier, Steven Miles, said, “I know that transitioning to renewables while keeping power prices down matters to Queenslanders, which is why my first budget as Queensland’s new Premier is investing in this Local Renewable Energy Zone pilot. 

“We want Queenslanders to come along on the clean energy journey and these nation-leading LREZS will be at the forefront of a community-led renewable energy transformation. 

“Right now, communities that benefit from high levels of sun cannot use those renewables at night.  So the answer is storage and using Local Renewable Energy Zones to facilitate the transfer. 

“LREZs will maximise the use of existing network infrastructure and batteries to produce, store, share, and use renewable energy locally. 

“Our $1,000 electricity rebates are helping Queenslanders with cost-of-living pressures now, but we need to plan for the future too and LREZs are another way we are giving Queenslanders cheaper, cleaner electricity and making sure we can capitalise on the natural assets in the Sunshine state,” Mr Miles said. 

Queensland Minister for Energy and Clean Economy Jobs, Mick de Brenni, said, “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 member Jason Hunt, the Smart Energy Council, and the Sunshine Coast conservation groups, is only possible because collectively they own their energy distribution system. 

“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,” Mr de Brenni said. 

Queensland Member for Caloundra, Jason Hunt, said, “LREZs will help foster thriving communities like Caloundra and also foster a clean energy economy by lowering costs, creating job opportunities and achieving Queensland’s renewable energy targets through coordinated planning and investment. 

“In Caloundra communities will be able to benefit from clean renewable public transport, such as electric busses knowing that, as part of the LREZ, these buses in future can potentially be charged from energy generated locally. 

“The beauty of these LREZs is that they can also be designed to be fit for purpose for each community and will be scalable for urban, regional, remote and isolated communities. 

“LREZs will also create business opportunities and jobs in our clean energy market and supply chain, by providing opportunities for businesses to invest in rooftop solar, and further stimulating battery manufacturing, solar and storage installation, and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure industries,” Mr Hunt said. 

Energy Queensland’s Chief Engineer, Peter Price, said, “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. 

“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 LREZ 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 LREZ pilot projects in Caloundra and Townsville 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 more than 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,” Mr Price said. 

Smart Energy Council Chief Executive, John Grimes, said, “The LREZ is an innovative, nation leading concept. 

“LREZs put cost of living relief at the centre of energy policy and households at the heart of the energy market,” Mr Grimes said.   

Image: Tim+Abernethy/ 

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