Clean sweep: Australia’s biggest solar farm brings 400 jobs to Qld

The renewables sector will provide a much-needed boost to regional Queensland with 400 jobs to be created through the start of work in July for Australia’s biggest solar farm, near Chinchilla.

May 06, 2020, updated May 07, 2020
Solar production collapsed because of cloud cover and posed questions for policy makers over the dependence on renewables

Solar production collapsed because of cloud cover and posed questions for policy makers over the dependence on renewables

The government-owned CleanCo will help underwrite the Neoen solar farm by buying 320 megawatts of its output. The project will generate enough energy to power about 235,000 Queensland homes.

The deal adds to CleanCo’s recent decision to help develop Australia’s biggest wind farm, the 1 gigawatt McIntyre wind farm, near Warwick by buying a portion of its output.

AGL also announced last week the end of construction of its Coopers Gap wind farm. Generation is expected to be linked to the network by the end of this year.

The Queensland Government expects to reach 20 per cent of its electricity generation from renewables this year and has a target of 50 per cent by 2030.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said CleanCo had given certainty to the project.

“The best thing we can do to support Queensland jobs is to support investment in our state,” she said.

“Today we’re announcing support through CleanCo to unlock hundreds of jobs on the Darling Downs.”

When the project was first proposed by the French company it included a massive battery development, but that has not been included in the announcement from the Government, expected today.

Neoen is also building a renewable hub in Victoria.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said renewable energy company Neoen would sell 320MW of its output to Queensland’s new publicly owned generator, CleanCo.

“As our economy emerges from the worst impacts of COVID-19, we need projects ready to go that will create jobs and stimulate spending, especially in regional Queensland,” Trad said.

“By partnering with Neoen, CleanCo will be able to ensure safe and decent working conditions are provided on this project.

“CleanCo’s power purchase agreement enables Neoen to proceed with its Western Downs Green Power Hub project.”

“Construction will commence in July, creating much-needed jobs, and generation is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.

“This is CleanCo’s third investment on behalf of its owners, the people of Queensland, and means Queenslanders now have 820 MW of new renewable energy in the pipeline.”

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the PPA between Neoen and CleanCo would support regional jobs and grow the local economy.

“Neoen will maximise the use of suppliers and the local workforce in Chinchilla and the south-west to ensure the benefits of this development are shared in the region,” he said.

“It will also establish an annual $100,000 Community Benefit Fund that provides opportunities for local community-building initiatives for the duration of the project’s life.

“Importantly, this maintains Queensland’s progress towards the Palaszczuk Labor Government target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.”

Neoen Australia’s managing director Louis de Sambucy said Neoen was excited to work with CleanCo on one of its first renewable energy projects in Queensland.

“We are 100 per cent committed to delivering this landmark deal by making the most of the region’s abundant solar resources, the use of cutting edge bi-facial solar panel technology, and our experience in delivering ground-breaking solar farms on time and on budget.”

Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub is 22km southeast of Chinchilla and will connect to the electricity grid via a new overhead line to publicly owned Powerlink’s existing Western Downs substation.


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