Queensland solar farms have jumped forward with the opening of the 100 MW Clare solar farm exporting energy into the grid and a further 2GW of solar power planned for the near future.
The Clare farm will be followed by a 1.5 GW solar farm by Sunshine Energy Australia in Somerset and another 500 MW one by Neoen in the Western Downs.
Clare, located some 35 km southwest of Ayr, in north Queensland is the twice the size of the current biggest operating solar farm in the state, the recently connected 50MW Kinston project, although it will soon be overtaken.
The Clare solar farm is owned by Lighthouse Solar, who also own the 20MW Hughenden solar farm in Queensland. That is also now registered with AEMO and appears poised to begin production. Clare has been injecting up to 20MW into the grid over the past few days.
The raft of Queensland solar projects will form part of the state’s 50 percent renewable energy target by 2030. The turnaround has been remarkable because, until late last year, Queensland had no large-scale wind or solar farms, even though it led the country in the installation of rooftop solar, with some 2GW of installed capacity. The Clare solar farm has a power purchase agreement with Origin Energy.
Neoen gets council approval for 500 MW solar plant
Meanwhile, French renewable energy developer Neoen has received council planning approval for a solar farm of up to 500MW, along with battery storage, in south-west Queensland.
The Western Downs green power hub is the second big project to be pursued by Neoen in Queensland, along with the Kaban renewable energy hub that will combine 160MW and battery storage near Cairns.
The Western Downs project consists of up to 1,500 hectares of ground-mounted solar panels and 2 hectares of battery energy storage.
The developers, which teamed up with Tesla to hook up their Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia to a big battery, would generate about 1.05 million megawatt hours (MWh) a year. Neoen says the project will start in 2019.
Neoen has so far completed two solar farms in NSW (Griffith and Parkes), is about to complete a solar facility at Dubbo, and is contracted to build a 150MW solar facility in Coleambally.
It is also building the Bulgana Renewable Energy Hub in Victoria, which combines a 192MW wind farm and another Tesla big battery – this time 20MW/34MWh.
It is also building the Numurkah solar farm in Victoria that will supply power to the Laverton steel works as well as the state government’s tram network.
Sunshine Energy 1.5 GW is the latest proposal in Queensland solar
These projects, however, will be dwarfed by a 1.5GW solar farm which is being proposed in south-east Queensland, as part of a massive new development application that would include two substations and a provision for battery storage. The project is headed by Sunshine Energy Australia.
The Somerset Regional Council said on Friday that it had received the application for the solar PV power plant, proposed for a 2,055-hectare site east of Harlin, on the D’Aguilar Highway.
The site has been largely cleared in the past and is within one hour of the 570MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant at Splityard Creek, which is also in the Somerset Regional Council area.
The region, although home to both the Splityard Creek hydro plant and the Wivenhoe pumped hydropower station, has hosted no large-scale solar farms as yet.
In 2011, a 400MW PV plant was proposed for near Kilcoy by a small local company called Energy Makers. That proposal was rejected by Somerset council in 2014 – a decision that was later upheld by the Queensland Ombudsman.