Four large-scale renewable energy projects worth about $700 million and expected to create more than 500 construction jobs in Queensland have taken a step forward this week.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the signing of support deeds for solar farms near Collinsville, Oakey and Longreach today coincided with the approval of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Coopers Gap wind farm near Kingaroy.
“These projects represent a $700 million investment in energy projects and in regional Queensland jobs,” she said.
“My Government is committed to ensuring the security of Queensland’s future energy needs through a mix of coal and gas-fired power stations, along with a growing share for large-scale renewable energy projects.
“The confidence shown in Queensland’s renewable future by these leading energy companies, from overseas and interstate, shows that my government’s policy settings have created an environment ripe for serious and sustainable investment.”
AGL Energy Limited’s $500 million Coopers Gap wind farm, to be built between Kingaroy and Dalby, is forecast to create 350 construction jobs and 20 permanent jobs when it is operational in 2020, supplying power through Powerlink’s existing transmission line to the network.
Energy Minister Mark Bailey said Queensland’s biggest wind farm could generate up to 460MW of electricity and potentially power more than 240,000 households.
“The Palaszczuk Government has already kick-started the renewable energy boom in Queensland with more than 1GW of privately funded renewable energy projects currently in the works delivering more than $2 billion of new investment to Queensland and more than 1900 direct jobs, mostly in our regions – with more to come,” he said.
“We established a renewable energy expert panel to advise on credible pathways to a 50 percent renewable energy target by 2030, and their advice is currently being considered.
“We’re committed to transitioning to a clean energy future responsibly which will see Queensland’s energy system powered by a mix of renewables, gas and traditional baseload generation.”
The Coordinator-General has placed conditions on his approval of the Coopers Gap EIS, including on noise compliance and testing, shadow flicker compliance and offsets for flora and fauna disturbance. (The Coordinator-General’s report is available at www.dsd.qld.gov.au)
Mr Bailey said signing the support deeds which secure long-term revenue certainty for the Collinsville, Oakey and Longreach solar projects meant proponents could now confirm investor funding and begin construction.
“This confirmation of the Whitsunday, Oakey and Longreach solar projects’ inclusion in the State’s Solar 150 program provides a 20-year revenue guarantee, meaning financial contracts can now be delivered and construction can begin,” he said.
“These projects are a sign of the times for regional Queensland’s major role in shaping the state’s transition to a renewable energy economy, and during construction will bring 196 much-needed jobs to the regions.”
The Edify Energy Whitsunday Solar Farm, near Collinsville is a 58MW project worth $122 million. During construction it is expected to create 116 jobs.
Edify Energy chief executive John Cole said he expected to finalise investment and begin construction in the near future.
“The Queensland Government’s Solar 150 program, and the federal government’s ARENA large scale solar grant funding program had been instrumental in securing investment from our long term equity partner, Wirsol, to make the project a reality,” he said.
“We hope to build on the momentum the Whitsunday Solar Farm has provided to advance further projects in Queensland in very short order.”
Canadian Solar general manager Daniel Ruoss said the $28 million 15MW Longreach project would employ 30 people during construction, and the $48 million 25MW Oakey project would bring with it 50 construction jobs.
“We expect to begin construction on both projects in May 2017 and be grid connected in early 2018,” he said.
“The Oakey project will also have a second stage involving an additional 55MWs commencing construction in the second half of 2017.
“We’ve chosen Queensland for our investment because of its world-class resources, great infrastructure and a forward looking Government. Queensland is truly the Sunshine State.”