Darling Downs Solar Update | Jobs, Farms & More

Darling Downs solar is helping the area by providing jobs to locals and kickstarting the economy – with one council already approving $6b worth of wind and solar projects. There’s now a ‘buzz’ around the Darling Downs and renewable energy – let’s take a look at what they have in the pipeline!

Darling Downs Solar 

Darling Downs Solar Farm
Darling Downs Solar Farm (source: Origin Energy)

“We’ve got $1.2 billion of that under construction now, and that’s the exciting thing, this isn’t just about approvals, this is about action to deliver renewable energies to this region,” Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said in comments to the ABC

“And we know there are another three [solar farms] in the pipeline.”

In Warwick, the 154,000 megawatt-hour generating UQ / Warwick Solar Farm is to be installed on ‘good agricultural land’ has had to wage a battle against NIMBY detractors. Mayor Tracy Dobie defended her decision (she had the deciding vote to allow the farm DA):

“This region is about growth and development and we can sit here and go poor slowly or we can progress our region and the more development we can get in our region the more jobs,” Ms Dobie said.

“The more progress we can make, the better off we are.”

Mayor Dobie continued to discuss the project and what she sees the future of renewable energy in the Darling Downs as looking like:

“This is a turning point in our region to show we are moving forward, that we are looking to the future, and there is nothing more evident than that than renewable energy.

“There’s a buzz about the Darling Downs, this is a great place to be and great time to be here.”

Toowoomba Solar

There’s been an amazing amount of renewable energy movement in Toowoomba – with the billion dollar project at Bulli Creek approved by the Tooowoomba Council. This will be built by Solar Choice over a 10 year staggered period. 

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio spoke about the concerns some residents may have and why he’s happy to continue approving solar farms:

“I guess we have to be a bit cautious of the type of land we put it on, but in saying that, the land is restorable, its not going to be destroyed in any mining effort or anything like that, and in 20, 30, 40 years’ time that land will be back to full production.”

Have a look at the short video below from ABC Landline which was part of an article about using ‘good farmland’ for solar farms. 

Read More Solar News:

350MW Lower Wonga Solar Farm in Gympie greenlit.

In April this year, we reported on a Gympie solar farm which lodged a $2b development proposal with the council. Today we are pleased to announce that the 350MW Lower Wonga Solar Farm has been greenlit by the Gympie Regional Council via a unanimous vote and should commence construction within the next few months.

Lower Wonga Solar Farm

Lower Wonga Solar Farm, Gympie
Proposed site for the Lower Wonga Solar Farm, Gympie (source: solarq.com.au)

The Lower Wonga Solar Farm, located on 572 hectares adjacent to a high voltage substation in Lower Wonga, will output 350MW (nominal, AC) via around 1.3 million solar PV panels, according to its website. However, an article by Arthur Gorrie at the Gympie Times notes that it will use 2 million panels. We have reached out to Solar Q, the developers of the project, to advise which is correct and will update you when we hear back.

In any case, Gympie Mayor Mick Curran told Wednesday’s council general meeting the solar electricity plant would be the largest in Australia. This record probably won’t last for long the Bulli Creek Solar Farm in Millmerran will generate 2000MW over 5400 acres and was greenlit by the Federal Government last week. 

Solar Q plan to increase the plant’s renewable energy generation from 350MW to 800MW in 2021 via a three-stage construction process over the next four years. 800MW is enough electricity to power 315,000 homes.  They are also planning to include battery storage, which will make it one of Australia’s biggest solar generating plants. It’ll reduce carbon emissions of around 666,700 tonnes of co2, which is the equivalent of getting 180,000 cars off the road! 

Scott Armstrong, Managing Director of Solar Q,  was quoted as saying “The whole aim with an energy plant is to be as close as possible to the customers, so you reduce energy transmissions losses and costs. “But we are also close to a workforce. We don’t need fly in-fly out, we have Gympie,” he said.

Great to see them supporting local employment – the farm is expected to create 450 full-time construction jobs for the 18 months of construction, 12 permanent positions, and result in the creation of major business opportunities for the Gympie region. The high voltage substation will be able to sustain transmission to Gin Gin, Teebar Creek, Mungar, Kilkivan region, Gympie region, Palmwoods/Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane areas. 

We’ll be sure to post an update as soon as we have any more information about this exciting new development. 

Read More Solar News: