Gladstone delivers double energy boost with green light for gas, solar projects

Central Queensland’s energy sector has been boosted with a gas joint venture awarded two petroleum leases and a planned $350 million solar farm near Gladstone farm winning backing from a UK investment and venture capital group.

Jul 08, 2020, updated Jul 08, 2020
Two central Queensland energy projects have received a boost. (Photo: Unsplash)

Two central Queensland energy projects have received a boost. (Photo: Unsplash)

The Mahalo gas joint venture between Comet Ridge, Santos and APLNG, was granted two, 30-year leases allowing it to move into production.

Comet Ridge chairman James McKay said the granting of the leases followed years of exploration, appraisal and development planning activities to prove up Mahalo, west of Gladstone, as a valuable development-ready gas project.

He said the project now has full regulatory approval to enable the project to realise full value for the asset.

‘’The Mahalo Gas Project is well positioned to deliver meaningful gas production into the domestic and export market as part of an emerging greater Mahalo fairway,” Mackay said.

A final investment decision has yet to be made.

The approvals coincided with United Green taking a majority stake in the Rodds Bay solar farm from Renew Estate, a joint venture between Energy Estate, Beast Solutions and global solar operator WIRSOL Energy.

The 300 megawatt project, 50 kilometres south of Gladstone, would be one of Australia’s largest renewables projects and add to the 6600MW of operational and committed renewable energy generation capacity.

If the project moves to development it would create more than 300 construction jobs.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the deal this morning and said the equity investment from United Green was a vote of confidence in Queensland’s renewables sector and the state’s economic recovery.

“While there are still some steps for this project to follow, this major investment will mean hundreds of new jobs in the Gladstone region when the project is due to start later this year,” she said.

Gladstone has also been marked as a potential hub for hydrogen production.

“With hydrogen the sky’s the limit,” Palaszczuk said.

The solar deal was a first for United Green in the Australian energy market. It also has investments utility-scale wind and solar developments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Renew Estate director Vincent Dwyer said the Rodds Bay project was a commitment to a sustainable future for the Gladstone region.

“We are delighted to have secured such a capable and experienced partner in United Green, with a shared vision for Queensland as a renewable energy powerhouse,” Dwyer said.

“Rodds Bay will not only create direct employment through jobs on site, but will create major opportunities for suppliers across a range of areas.

“We worked closely with Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) to secure the investment, and we are very grateful to TIQ for their introductions and support.

“We’re also continuing to work closely with them to connect into local supply chains as part of delivering jobs and regional economic development.”

United Green Chief Investment Officer Tim Mole also welcomed the move. United Green has investments across energy, real estate, technology, nutrition and trade.

“The strength of support for this project from the Queensland Government, the local community, local businesses and other stakeholders gives us great confidence in taking this project forward to construction and marks Renew Estate as one of Australia’s leading renewable energy developers,” Mole said.

Renew Estate will continue to be a shareholder in the Rodds Bay project.

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