The Queensland government has elected to use $1 billion from its controversial coal royalties programme to fund a clean energy – vanadium battery project – and a major expansion of the state’s electricity network.
The state’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed $594 million from its latest budget will be invested over the next year to commence construction of the much vaunted CopperString 2032 project.
The new energy plans were unveiled at the official opening of Vecco Group’s $26 million Townsville Vanadium Battery Manufacturing Facility.
Funds and support have also been provided to the critical energy minerals company through the government’s Queensland Jobs Fund.
Premier’s vision for vanadium and CopperString 2032
A $20 million early works package for engineering and geotechnical work has been awarded to CIMIC Group companies UGL and CPB Contractors.
The Premier declared the project is bringing Queensland’s next mining boom in critical minerals “one step closer”.
“I want to see vanadium mined in Queensland, processed in Queensland, and made into vanadium batteries here in Queensland,” the Premier stated.
“This is just the beginning of the manufacturing and mining jobs boom that our investment in CopperString 2032 delivers for North Queensland.”
“Queensland has unique deposits of many of the minerals needed for the global energy transformation, along with the best mining and manufacturing workforce.”
The government’s specialist agency Energy Queensland is preparing to trial vanadium battery technology to assist the state in achieving its renewable energy targets.
Energy Queensland is the group of electricity distribution, retail and energy services businesses 100% owned by the state of Queensland.
The new facility will produce the electrolyte required to manufacture vanadium batteries. Studies have identified that in comparison to lithium-ion batteries, vanadium batteries will last longer at up to 20 years.
They have also been found to have lower rates of degradation and are almost 100% recyclable.
New energy commitments
The Premier said the government’s commitments have opened the door for Queensland to use vanadium batteries in the Queensland SuperGrid.
Energy Queensland has inked a deal with Vecco and Sumitomo Electric to trial a vanadium battery power plant in South-East Queensland.
Energy Queensland and Vecco Group will also work together to assess the benefits and technical considerations for connecting more vanadium batteries to the electricity network.
What is CopperString 2032?
The major proportion of new funding will be aimed at CopperString 2032, the largest ever economic development project in North Queensland, and the largest expansion to the power grid in Australia.
CopperString 2032 is a 1,100 km high-voltage electricity transmission line from Townsville to Mount Isa that will connect Queensland’s North West Minerals Province (NWMP) to the national electricity grid.
The $5 billion expanded project will include a 500-kilovolt (kV) line from Townsville to Hughenden to connect the NWMP to the North Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (NQREZ), the largest renewable energy zone in the nation.
The Premier says this connection will form an essential part of the new Queensland SuperGrid transmission backbone to be delivered under the $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.
Townsville MP and Queensland’s minister for Resources, Scott Stewart, said around 800 jobs will be supported through CopperString 2032 project construction.
“When completed the new transmission line significantly increases opportunities to connect high quality renewable resources to our region’s industries.
“With Joint Venture partners UGL and CPB Contractors now on-board, we will be fast-tracking work on the 500kV transmission line from Townsville to Hughenden as well as associated works to progress the project towards construction commencing in 2024.”
The government also believes that CopperString 2032 will help pave the way for other renewables resources and critical mineral development opportunities in north Queensland.