The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan is expected to support the creation of nearly 100,000 jobs by 2040. Here’s what you need to know about where those jobs will come from, and what the Energy Plan means for the existing energy sector workforce.
The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan details a $62 billion pipeline of public and private investment into renewable energy generation, storage and transmission to build what’s being billed as the Queensland SuperGrid.
Currently, about 21.4 per cent of the electricity used in Queensland comes from renewable sources, but under the Energy Plan’s SuperGrid, it’s expected that 70 per cent of the state’s power will come from renewables by 2032, and 80 per cent by 2035.
The Energy Plan is expected to generate new jobs and opportunities for communities and create the new careers of tomorrow, while ensuring a secure future for workers at Queensland’s publicly owned coal-fired power stations. Here’s how it works.
How will the Energy Plan create jobs for Queenslanders?
According to modelling by accounting firm Ernst and Young, the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan will support the creation of nearly 100,000 jobs by 2040. To determine this, the firm compared the market and investment opportunities under the Energy Plan against an uncoordinated outlook with no Energy Plan.
Ernst and Young’s projections found the Energy Plan will deliver approximately:
- 64,000 jobs in clean energy infrastructure, including new skilled direct jobs to build the Queensland Supergrid; jobs in manufacturing and ongoing operations; and indirect jobs in the services industry that supports the energy sector.
- 36,000 jobs in green growth opportunities, including direct and indirect jobs, across key sectors like renewable hydrogen, battery manufacturing, resource mining and metal refining.
Jobs in clean energy infrastructure
Ernst and Young’s report found the development of the Queensland SuperGrid could support 28,500 direct jobs on average each year, through the construction, manufacturing and operation of renewable energy assets. It’s expected that 70 per cent of these jobs will be in regional Queensland.
Additionally, the scale of the investment required to build the SuperGrid is expected to support more than 35,000 indirect jobs in services, hospitality, and other industries across Queensland.
The Energy Plan is expected to provide new opportunities for onshore manufacturing of the components required to build the SuperGrid, including wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, pumped hydro equipment and transmission lines.
For instance, to reach the Energy Plan’s target of 80 per cent renewable energy by 2035, it’s expected Queensland will need more than 2,000 wind towers and nacelles; more than 7,000 wind tower blades; almost 25 million solar PV modules; and nearly 7,000 batteries over the next 13 years.
The Queensland Government – which retains 100 per cent ownership of transmission, 100 per cent ownership of deep storage, and majority ownership of generation – will apply its ‘Buy Local’ procurement policy to the components required to build the SuperGrid, driving local demand for components that have traditionally been imported.
The state government is also committing $11.6 million to help build capacity in the domestic manufacturing sector, including detailed local supply chain studies, and is establishing a $200 million Regional Economic Futures Fund (REFF) to support economic and community development initiatives and maximise the local benefits of the SuperGrid.
Jobs in green growth opportunities
Ernst and Young’s modelling estimates that Queensland’s economy will experience up to $25.7 billion more growth by 2040 than it would without the Energy Plan.
They found that by delivering low emissions and low-cost electricity to Queensland, the Energy Plan could unlock opportunities for established and emerging industries, supporting more than 36,000 jobs. These will come in the form of 22,000 direct jobs, most of which are likely to be in regional Queensland, and a further 14,200 indirect jobs.
Specifically, these 22,000 direct jobs are expected to be found in:
- Queensland’s energy-intensive metal refining industries, where the Energy Plan is forecast to drive a further $3 billion in metal refining output in 2040, supporting 2,500 direct jobs.
- Queensland’s resource mining industry, where critical minerals such as vanadium present significant growth opportunities. Production in the resource mining industry, excluding coal, could increase by $5 billion under the Energy Plan in 2040, supporting 5,200 direct jobs.
- Queensland’s renewable hydrogen industry, which involves the use of renewable and zero emissions energy to create hydrogen. By implementing the Energy Plan, the state’s hydrogen industry could be $19 billion larger in 2040, creating 4,350 direct jobs.
- Queensland’s battery manufacturing industry, with demand for utility-scale and residential batteries expected to grow significantly. Under the Energy Plan, alongside targeted policies and investments to grow the battery manufacturing industry, expanded growth opportunities could total $2 billion in 2040, supporting 9,800 direct jobs.
How will the Energy Plan impact the existing energy sector workforce?
By 2035, it’s expected that Queensland’s renewable energy generation and storage will have progressed to the point that Queensland will no longer be reliant on coal. These stations will continue to play a vital role in the energy system, however.
Taking advantage of the existing transmission infrastructure at these sites, they will gradually become clean energy hubs, home to grid-scale batteries, as well as gas (and later hydrogen) power stations. They will also serve as maintenance hubs for nearby government-owned renewable wind and solar farms.
The coal-fired power stations will continue to serve in a back-up capacity for as long as required, and the large spinning generators at the stations will progressively be converted to synchronous condensers, enabling them to continue to provide inertia and strength for the grid.
A Queensland Energy System Advisory Board will be established in 2025, and will provide technical advice to government through a comprehensive review of the Energy Plan every two years. This will ensure affordability, reliability and security is maintained as the system transforms.
To support workers at publicly owned coal-fired power stations and ensure no worker will be out of a job, the state government has established a Job Security Guarantee. The Guarantee will be backed by a $150 million funding commitment and an Energy Workers’ Charter between unions, government and employers.
The Guarantee will provide workers with opportunities to continue their careers within publicly owned energy businesses, or pursue other career pathways. It will do this by supporting workers to transfer between publicly owned energy corporations to secure new, ongoing opportunities; undertake additional training or skills development; and seek advice on their career options with dedicated future pathway managers.
How will workers be trained for the jobs of the future?
Queenslanders will need to develop the right skills to build and operate the SuperGrid, and to succeed in the emerging industries that will grow under the Energy Plan.
To that end, the state government will develop a Future Energy Workforce Roadmap during 2023 that will outline the steps to build and develop workforce capacity and capability. The government will also establish a new Energy Industry Council and appoint a Queensland Renewable Jobs Advocate to provide advice on the future skills, opportunities and training pathways required.
A further $90 million will go towards establishing new regional transmission and training hubs in Gladstone and Townsville, where critical skills that will be needed for Queensland’s energy transformation will be taught.
Have your say
Communities will be consulted on key implementation activities of the Energy Plan throughout late 2022 and 2023.
This will include a QREZ Roadmap on the long-term development of Queensland Renewable Energy Zones; the draft Regional Energy Transformation Partnerships Framework that will outline how communities, industry, and local and state government will work together to maximise the benefits of the Energy Plan; the Future Energy Workforce Roadmap; and an Energy Storage Strategy to incentivise more investment in batteries, storage and firming technologies.
To learn more about consultation activities near you and play your part in shaping Queensland’s energy transformation, visit epw.qld.gov.au/energyandjobsplan/have-your-say