Solar farm powering jobs

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Queensland’s Western Downs solar farm has reached a major milestone, with connection to the electricity grid now complete.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said Neoen’s $600 million Western Downs Green Power Hub is supporting more than 450 construction jobs and will generate 400 megawatts (MW) of solar energy.

“Powerlink’s completion of connection works marks a significant milestone for the project and continues progress towards achieving the Government’s 50 percent Renewable Energy Target by 2030,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Once complete, this solar farm will generate enough electricity for more than 230,000 Queensland homes – equivalent to powering a city four times the size of Toowoomba.

“This is further proof of Queensland’s credentials as a renewables and hydrogen superpower, with cleaner, cheaper energy delivering Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19, driving new manufacturing jobs and sustaining existing industry.

“This record-breaking project near Chinchilla is backed by government-owned clean energy company, CleanCo, which has committed to purchasing 320MW of the solar power produced.

“An economic assessment by Aurecon estimates the project will generate more than $850 million in overall economic activity for Queensland, with 25 per cent expected to be spent in the Western Downs region, helping communities affected by drought and the impacts of COVID-19.

“The ongoing economic benefit is estimated at around $32 million per year for the Queensland economy, 90 per cent of which is expected to directly benefit the Western Downs region.”

Powerlink Chief Executive Paul Simshauser said grid connection works, which supported 28 jobs, involved building six kilometres of new transmission line and connection works at Powerlink’s existing Western Downs Substation.

“This newly-built transmission line feeds into Neoen’s Hopeland Substation, which has also now been energised to help transport the renewable energy generated at the solar farm to the National Electricity Market,” Mr Simshauser said.

“Following our project team’s commitment to achieving on-ground works safely and efficiently, we are proud to mark completion of our construction activities. We look forward to working with Neoen to undertake final testing and commissioning in coming months as solar farm development continues to progress.”

CleanCo Queensland chair Jacqui Walters said the Western Downs Green Power Hub would add significant renewable energy capacity for Queensland.

“The 320MW of solar energy we’ve secured from this project joins CleanCo’s unique portfolio of wind, hydro and gas generation and enables us to offer reliable, low emissions energy at a competitive price for our customers,” she said.

“We have a mandate to bring 1,400MW of new renewable energy online by 2025 and through projects like the Western Downs Green Power Hub we will do this while supporting growth and jobs in regional Queensland.”

Neoen Australia’s Managing Director Louis de Sambucy said: ‘We would like to thank Powerlink and congratulate everyone involved for their hard work and dedication in reaching this important project milestone. The team remains mobilised towards finalising construction over coming months and we’re looking forward to delivering affordable renewable energy to CleanCo and Queensland”.

The Western Downs Green Power Hub will produce more than 1,080 GWh per year, the equivalent to avoiding 864,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

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