MORE regional and rural communities could end up off the grid using solar energy and batteries as part of Labor's proposed electricity business mergers.
Asked how Queensland's electricity supply industry would contribute to the economy in coming years, treasurer Curtis Pitt said the mergers gave the state's electricity network businesses a chance to truly embrace renewable energy.
"With the mergers, it's not just about making them run effectively and more efficiently for us," he told a Brisbane business breakfast on Wednesday.
"We expect we should be able to get around $150 million savings in terms of the way we operate them based on Treasury's numbers. But it's also a way for those businesses to reshape themselves.
"Playing more in that (renewable energy) space is going to benefit those businesses and transform the way they operate."
Mr Pitt said it was an important challenge for his government to "get more solar on rooftops", both residential and business, because it would help the bottom line and create jobs through installation.
He said he expected more remote and rural communities to take up solar and battery power options off the grid as electricity businesses worked to find the best options for the economy, environment and users.
Mr Pitt said fringe areas around the larger centres might be able to have their own local or suburban grids where they share electricity.
Solar electricity researcher Peter Wolfs said supplying electricity to rural Queensland was expensive, noting distribution network assets at the grid's fringe cost tens of thousands of dollars per customer
"Those assets are old; so with parts of the grid built in the '70s. Looking at solar and battery solutions is arguably a better economic option right now," he said.
"The distribution companies are not sitting on their hands, they're actively looking at these things.
"Ergon has an active group of engineers looking at this, thinking about the best options and running small scale trials."
Professor Wolfs, a CQUniversity electrical engineering professor, also said finding ways to reduce diesel use to generate electricity in remote towns, island resorts and mining sites through renewable energies could create enormous savings.
He said solar had become a mature technology but the battery technology needed a little more work.
- APN NEWSDESK
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