Electricity retailers in Australia’s state of Queensland will be required to source at least 13 per cent of the power sold in the state from natural gas generators and two per cent from renewable sources from 1 January 2005 under new measures.

State premier Peter Beattie said the government would also facilitate the development of a gas-fired plant, located near Townsville. At present, some 97 per cent of Queensland’s electricity is generated from coal.

The move could improve the prospects of an ambitious $3.5 billion project to pump natural gas from offshore Papua New Guinea to industrial sites on Queensland’s east coast via a link under the Torres Straits, stretching down to Townsville and Gladstone.