Australia's 52-MW Burdekin hydropower plant tabled amidst energy goal squabbles

Burdekin Dam

Power developer Meridian Energy Australia is shelving plans for the 52-MW Burdekin hydropower project, citing revisions to Australia's federal energy policy.

Burdekin, which would have been located in the northern region of Queensland, would have helped Australia meet its proposed Renewable Energy Target (RET). The RET established goals of requiring 41,000 GWh of electricity be sourced from green sources by 2020, but questions regarding federal support for the plan have stymied renewable development.

"Meridian understands that the people of Northern Queensland will feel on learning of this decision," Meridian chief executive Ben Burge said. "However, the federal government's protracted efforts to reduce the Renewable Energy Target have made long-term capital investments in energy assets in this country nearly impossible."

The company acquired the rights to develop the project in April 2013, which would have used existing infrastructure at Australia's largest dam, Burdekin Falls.

Meridian Energy said it then worked with local communities, landowners, resource authority SunWater and the Queensland government over the past 18 months to "deliver significant benefits" to the region, including up to 150 jobs during development and construction.

"This is especially disappointing given the role that the Burdekin project stood to play in enhancing energy security in Northern Queensland, which is expected to emerge as a threat in the medium term," Burge said.

Meridian Energy called the government's position on the RET "puzzling" given that its own study, the Warburton Review, "revealed that the policy does not increase the net costs of electricity for Australian consumers".

Meridian Energy Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Meridian Energy Limited, which is the largest state-owned generator in New Zealand. The company entered the Australian market in 2001.

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