French independent producer of renewable energy Neoen, announced it has signed a 352 MWp power purchase agreement with Queensland’s publicly owned clean energy company CleanCo, which will enable Neoen to build Australia’s largest solar farm.
The 460 to 480 MWp Western Downs Green Power Hub solar farm will be located near Chinchilla in south east Queensland, delivering clean energy into Powerlink Queensland’s transmission network.
Western Downs Green Power Hub will will generate energy to power 235,000 Queensland homes, or enough to power every home on the Sunshine Coast.
This is CleanCo Queensland’s second renewable energy offtake agreement since its establishment in December 2018, and it will contribute over 30% of the energy required for CleanCo Queensland to meet its target of 1 GW of new renewable generation by 2025.
The A$570 million investment by Neoen is expected to create up to 400 jobs for the local and South West Queensland area when construction begins in July 2020. Connection will be via the Western Downs substations via a new overhead line, with energy generation scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022.
As per its strategy, Neoen also will be the long-term owner and operator of the project, sharing the ongoing benefits of this development with the local community. The establishment of a Community Benefit Fund will provide opportunities for local community-building initiatives totaling A$100,000 every year for the lifetime of the project.
Neoen is also working closely with the Traditional Owners, the Barunggam, to go well beyond current best practice for Indigenous participation, targeting 10% of the project’s economic benefits, including employment, training and supply chain outcomes.
Louis de Sambucy, Neoen Australia’s Managing Director said:
“We are excited to work in partnership with CleanCo with whom we share the same long-term vision. The electricity produced by Western Downs solar farm will complement CleanCo’s hydro energy production and it will be our first project in Queensland. We are fully committed to delivering this landmark deal by making the most of the region’s excellent solar resources, the use of the latest technology and our experience in delivering solar farms on time and on budget. We look forward to Western Downs becoming a lighthouse project in achieving excellent regional economic and local community outcomes that will be needed in the aftermath of Covid-19’s impact on the economy. This will also help the Queensland government work towards its ambitious target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.”
Maia Schweizer, CleanCo Queensland’s inaugural CEO said:
“This an exciting initiative which is delivering a better future for Queensland. We’re delivering affordable, secure and clean energy, which is powering new jobs right across our state.”
Powerlink Queensland Interim Chief Executive, Kevin Kehl, said the Western Downs Green Power Hub is extremely well positioned to connect to the national grid via Powerlink’s transmission network:
“This project will bring Queensland to 2000 MW of large-scale renewable generation connected to the transmission network in the state.”
Source: Press Release by Neoen. Photo credit: © Neoen.