Australian developer begins work on 1.2 GW wind-solar hub


From pv magazine Australia

Iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest’s private company, Squadron Energy, has started building the AUD 3 billion ($2.03 billion) Clarke Creek renewable energy precinct.

It launched the project with a ground-breaking ceremony at the site, which has been described as Australia’s largest grid-connected renewable energy project. The Clarke Creek project comprises an 800 MW wind farm and up to 400 MW of solar installations. It will also include a battery energy storage facility of unspecified size, although there have been reports that Squadron is looking at installing up to 2 GWh of battery storage at the site.

The project, which is being developed across 76,300 hectares about 150 kilometers northwest of Rockhampton in central Queensland, will be delivered in two stages. Stage one, which is now under construction, will comprise 450 MW of wind capacity by 2025.

Squadron has already signed a supply deal with Queensland government-owned energy generator Stanwell Corp. for most of the output of the first stage of the project. Stanwell has inked a 346.5MW Power Purchase Agreement as part of a 15-year commitment to the project.

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Stage two of the Clarke Creek project will include the remainder of the wind generation capacity and an expected 400 MW solar farm teamed with a grid-scale battery energy storage system. Squadron said the precinct could produce enough wind, solar and battery energy to power more than 660,000 homes equivalent to approximately 40% of Queensland households and will export lower cost electricity directly into the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The start of construction on the project comes just days after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) outlined its vision for the next 30 years of the NEM. Its plans include the massive investment required to transition from fossil fuels to firmed renewables.

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