Wind in its sails: $40m boost for contentious North Qld wind farm

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says $40 million in State Government funding would allow the Kaban wind farm to proceed, only weeks after the Commonwealth refused the company a loan.

May 21, 2021, updated May 21, 2021
Genex has signed an offtake deal with Energy Australia for its planned wind farm (file photo)

Genex has signed an offtake deal with Energy Australia for its planned wind farm (file photo)

The State Government will spend $40 million upgrading a transmission line between Cairns and Townsville to help carry the 157-megawatt wind farm planned by Neoen.

“Along with the Kidston Pumped Hydro Storage Project, this wind farm will power the North and keep Queensland on track to meet our 50 per cent renewables target by 2030,” Palaszczuk said in a statement today, before visiting a nearby hydroelectric power plant at Kuranda.

The $373 million wind farm would create 250 construction jobs, with another 97 having ongoing work thanks to the Powerlink upgrade. The government regards it as a cornerstone of the Northern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone.

However, the Federal Coalition Government has not been so supportive of renewable energy projects, particular where taxpayer funds are concerned. Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt recently vetoed Neoen’s application for a loan that would have been used to fund the transmission line upgrade.

Pitt argued the wind farm would not provide reliable power to the energy grid – it is unclear whether Neoen intends to proceed with an already approved battery component – and he was not convinced it would contribute to lower energy prices.

But Palaszczuk was adamant the wind farm and other renewable energy projects would “put downward pressure on power prices” while also creating regional jobs.

“Our investment in new transmission line infrastructure today won’t just enable Neoen to forge ahead with their Kaban project – it has potential to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of new investment in renewable energy in North Queensland in the future.”

The Commonwealth has funded a proposal for a coal-fired power station in Queensland and this week announced a new gas-fired power station in NSW.

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