The Morrison government has vetoed public funding of a windfarm and battery project in northern Queensland, with a cabinet minister declaring it was inconsistent with its goals and policies.
The Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (Naif), a government agency, in January approved up to $280m funding for the Kaban green energy hub 80km south-west of Cairns. The proponents, Neoen Australia, estimated the development could reduce electricity prices for Queensland consumers by $461m over the life of the project.
Keith Pitt, the minister for resources, water and northern Australia, blocked the loan in March. In a letter to the head of the agency, Pitt said the development would not provide “dispatchable” generation into the national electricity market and he was “not convinced” it would lower power prices.
The blocked funding would have helped build a 157-megawatt windfarm and 100MW battery. The project also includes a 320km transmission line upgrade. Neoen says the hub would create 247 jobs during construction and five ongoing positions.
In a written explanation of his reasons for the veto, Pitt said the government’s technology investment roadmap policy had identified that the widespread deployment of mature technologies including wind and solar energy would be mainly driven by the private sector unless there was a clear market failure.
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