Jobs, clean energy on Energy Futures Summit agenda
Queensland electricity heavyweights were among discussions about the acceleration of the state’s clean energy future on the first day of the Energy Futures Summit at Central Queensland University in Gladstone.
Energy companies Stanwell, CleanCo and Powerlink took part in three frank panel discussions, alongside unions, educators, environment groups and Traditional Owners about the transition away from coal fired power.
Renewable job creation and the retraining of a fossil-fuel skilled workforce were also on the agenda at the Energy Futures Summit.
The discussions came on the same day Stanwell announced it was moving away from coal fired power generation.
Event host The Next Economy’s CEO Dr Amanda Cahill said the honesty and transparency of the panellists, who addressed plans for exiting of assets and future developments, was welcomed by all.
“The fact that we have such different groups in the room and that they are all willing to work together so that the region can take advantage of the opportunities, like green hydrogen and manufacturing, is just fantastic to see,” Dr Cahill said.
“Energy companies were transparent about the need for early retirement of assets and future developments and industry players were open and honest around key challenges such as jobs and training in new industries.
“It was fantastic to be joined by Traditional Owners talking about future aspirations and the need to be a part of the discussion as well.”
Queensland’s largest power generator, Stanwell, announced its Future Pathways initiative aimed at working with communities, stakeholders, unions to plan for the future.
Stanwell CEO Richard van Breda said the transformation in the energy industry was accelerating.
“I think we have underestimated how quickly this is happening, and this is driven by communities, community sentiment, it’s driven by customers and it’s driven by a change in technologies.
“At Stanwell, we absolutely recognise that we have got to adapt, we have got to change and adapt to the needs of customers, and that is crucial.
“These plans will ensure that when we eventually retire our assets – and that’s going to happen, the coal plants are going to retire – that our people will have choices.”
Several union groups also took part in discussions.
Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford called on the Federal Government to lead on future job growth in new, clean industries such as manufacturing and green hydrogen, for regional Queensland.
“Industry is getting on with this, but the politics is holding us back, and we saw that in the last Federal Election where communities in Central Queensland were certainly swayed to vote because of this issue, and because of the fears and the uncertainty of what was going to happen to jobs in this transition,” Mr Clifford said.
“We need to force the government to lead on this and provide the funds to ensure that we have investment in jobs.”
Day two of the Energy Futures Summit on Thursday involves the outcomes and recommendations, which will be presented back to participants and the State Government for consideration in planning processes.