Australia: Q&A with Qld energy minister Mark Bailey: The 50% renewable target

The Labor Party led by Annastacia Palaszczuk was the surprise winner of the Queensland state election earlier this year, and one of its boldest policies was a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

That will require one of the biggest transformations of a state's energy industry ever seen. In an interview with RenewEconomy, energy minister Mark Bailey says the government intends to deliver on the promise, although it is not yet making any rash promises about how it will do that.

The first steps, however, are in train, with a tender for solar energy from the government, a review of the "fair price" for rooftop solar, and a focus on battery storage technology.

Bailey agreed to answer 10 questions from RenewEconomy as part of its Queensland energy special. Here are his answers.

RenewEconomy: What do you see as the biggest challenge in your job right now? Is it integrating new technologies, achieving emissions reductions, or transitioning an energy system that is little changed in decades?

Mark Bailey: I think the challenge across the economy in general is disruption from technology and the challenge of climate change – and that is no different in the energy sector. The price rises that consumers have borne in the past five years means they are looking for alternatives that they can control and technology is offering them that. As government, we need to make sure the change is productive for the broader economy and, of course, appropriate safety standards are in place – but the change in transport, retail or music industry are being driven by the market not the government.

Energy supply is undergoing a transformational change. The way it is generated, transported and used is changing. Customers are leading much of these changes – they are wanting new services, clean energy and greater choice.

RenewEconomy: The Queensland government has pledged a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. How does it propose to go about that?

Bailey: The Palaszczuk Government has set a priority of unlocking the state's renewable energy resource potential and establishing Queensland as a renewable energy leader.

We are currently finalising the membership and scope of the public inquiry into the pathway to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

The inquiry will investigate the cost and benefits of adopting a 50 per cent renewable energy target in Queensland by 2030; and determine how the adoption of a renewable energy generation target and other complementary policies can drive the development of a renewable energy economy for Queensland.

The inquiry will be undertaken by a panel of experts and involve a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement program.

RenewEconomy: The Queensland Labor government has also proposed an "auction" of 60MW of large-scale solar? Are auctions likely to be a model, going forward, to reach that 50 per cent target, which is likely to be greater than the national target?

Bailey: We have certainly seen the successes of the ACT auctions and are keen to replicate that and go further. Queensland is a big state with some of the best solar resources in the world, and is ideally placed to benefit as solar generation becomes an increasingly important part of Australia's electricity generation. We have been out of the picture for large-scale solar under the previous government and we have been rectifying that.

The Queensland government is committed to supporting up to 60MW of local large-scale solar power generation in Queensland to drive significant growth in renewable energy investment.

We will do this by providing long-term revenue contracts to successful Queensland bidders for large-scale solar photovoltaic funding being made available by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

State government support will provide successful Queensland project proponents with long-term income certainty which will help them to access favorable financing arrangements and develop lower-cost projects.

We have had 33 projects come forward with bids so this is going to be a strong competitive process.

RenewEconomy: You have commissioned the new Queensland Production Commission to look into a "fair price" for solar. What do you imagine a fair price of solar to be? Is it one that recognises the network, price and environmental benefits of the technology?

Bailey: The Queensland Productivity Commission public inquiry will determine a fair price for solar power based on a number of factors, including an assessment of the public and consumer benefits of exported solar energy.

The Queensland Productivity Commission review terms of reference is available at

This is a topic that has been examined many times – but not with an effort to explicitly include those broader benefits.

RenewEconomy: The nature of the premium feed-in tariffs means there is no signal for solar households to moderate consumption or gear their usage to reduce peak demand. Is there any consideration of a buy-out of tariffs, that has been contemplated by Ergon energy, to try to change that behaviour?

Bailey: There is no doubt that feed-in tariffs have to become more sophisticated and take into account peak demand – but you do need digital or smarter meters to do that. Buyouts would, of course, be an expensive up front cost – and you would have to make sure that you could model some real network benefits to ensure you are getting taxpayer value for that. It's an interesting idea, but we have a strong agenda going forward and this idea is not part of it at this point.

RenewEconomy: Many experts forecast that up to half of all demand will be met by on-site generation within the next few decades. Is the rise of the "pro-sumer" a good thing?

Bailey: If it can help us save on network costs – it is an excellent thing. As most readers will know that is 50 per cent of the costs. That's the billion dollar question: does the rise of the pro-sumer reduce overall costs of the network or just the costs of the pro-sumer? We all need to work together to make sure that happens.

RenewEconomy: Queensland has been cited as one of the most attractive places to build large-scale solar in Australia. What is making it so, and what are you doing to ensure that it happens?

Bailey: The first thing was just opening the doors again and indicating that we are open for business on renewable energy. The previous government was so negative, yet Queensland has some of the best solar resources in the world and is ideally placed to benefit as solar generation becomes an increasingly important part of Australia's electricity generation mix.

The Palaszczuk government is supporting the development of local, large-scale solar projects by providing long-term revenue contracts to successful Queensland bidders for solar funding through the ARENA competitive round.

The government-owned Ergon Energy is also supporting Queensland's renewables sector by entering the market to buy 150MW of renewable energy – including solar, wind and hydro – from renewable energy suppliers in regional Queensland.

RenewEconomy: What are some of the other technologies that get you excited?

Bailey: I am also main roads minister, and I think electric cars, self-driving cars, trucks, and drones are going to transform our road system.

RenewEconomy: Have you driven an electric car? Should Queensland government agencies encourage the take-up of EVs?

Bailey: Recently I announced that the state government has partnered with Mitsubishi Motors and Ergon Energy to bring eight electric vehicles into Ergon's passenger fleet this year.

We have also taken the initiative to establish Australia's first 'electric super highway' service station in Townsville where drivers can fast-charge their electric vehicles using solar energy.

RenewEconomy: Energy storage is seen as the most disruptive technology, but to what extent is it an ally of your network, or a challenge?

Bailey: It is still unclear who will get the benefit of the savings at this stage. Energy storage has the potential to provide an advanced, cost-effective technology solution that will improve the quality and reliability of electricity supply to rural customers in areas of limited or no communications, very high system impedance, harsh environmental conditions, line protection issues, and stability issues.

Ergon Energy is exploring applications such as the Grid Utility Storage System (GUSS) where battery storage can benefit the network.

GUSS is designed to defer network augmentations, with Ergon modelling showing that average network upgrade costs could be reduced by 35 per cent while improving the quality of electricity supply to rural customers in remote areas.

GUSS works by charging batteries overnight when electricity use is at its lowest and discharging them during the day, if required, when energy use peaks.

GUSS units have been installed at 17 sites across the state, including two units between Rockhampton and Bundaberg, five between Burketown and Doomadgee, three each for Mount Isa and Mirani and two near Cunnamulla.

But of course we are about to see batteries and storage deployed in homes as costs fall – mainly not by networks but by consumers. Whether that ends up in network savings – it is too early to tell, but there is a lot of research going into that question at the moment.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.