Equis Energy has secured approval to begin constructing one of the largest solar farms in the world – a 1 GW installation in the Australian state of Queensland.
The Western Downs Regional Council has approved the plans submitted by Singapore-based renewable energy developer Equis Energy to build the AU$1.5 billion to $2 billion project.
Equis Energy chairman David Russell confirmed to pv magazine on Friday that the developer had been given the greenlight to build the Wandoan South Solar Projects (WSSP), stating: “The project will not only provide significant amounts of low-cost clean energy, but will also generate new jobs and training opportunities, with millions of dollar invested throughout local communities.
“The WSSP will have the ability to add battery storage when commercially feasible. This will allow energy to be stored and facilitate the generation of power into the evening,” added Russell.
The project is expected to generate up to 400 jobs during the construction phase, according to local Mayor Paul McVeigh.
Speaking to the Toowoomba Chronicle this morning on the occasion of the approval, McVeigh said: “It’s a AU$2 billion construction cost and of that we expect at least 50% of that to be invested in the local community.
“This 1,000 MW farm is definitely the largest in Australia that is approved at this stage, and potentially one of the largest in the world. It covers a lot of country. The ones we have approved to date have been up to 250 MW.”
The chosen site is a 1,424 hectare stretch of land 12 km southwest of the town of Wandoan, in a region of the country blessed with some of Australia’s highest levels of solar irradiation.
Solar energy is an increasingly viable and attractive source of power across Australia – a fact not lost on the mayor. “We have our coal and coal-fired power stations and coal seam gas,” McVeigh said. “Now we have a third wave of energy with solar farms about to start construction. We are proud to be making ourselves the energy capital of Queensland and, we hope, for Australia.”
Queensland’ government has recently revealed plans to deliver a reverse auction for 400 MW of renewable energy capacity in the state as it seeks to bolster its clean power mix with a AU$1.16 billion investment drive.
The state currently has around 700 MW of large-scale solar capacity installed – a figure dwarfed by the 1.7 GW of rooftop PV in place across Queensland. However, some 1.2 GW of utility-scale projects have already begun development, and the addition of Equis Energy’s 1 GW plant will significantly bolster the state’s solar footprint.
In February, Equis Energy invested AU$400 million into two, 100 MWac solar PV projects – one located in South Australia and the other in Queensland.