Ross River Solar Farm (Kelso, Townsville)

The $202 million, 148MW Ross River Solar Farm in Kelso, near Townsville in North Queensland is currently under construction. It’s the largest operating single stage solar farm in Australia and will comprise of 413,000 solar panels on single axis tracking systems.

Ross River solar farm

Ross River Solar Farm
Ross River solar farm (source: rossriversolarfarm.com.au)

The solar farm reached a financial close last May under Palisade Investment Partners and ESCO Pacific. Built on a disused mango farm over 202 hectares in a rural residential area near Ross Dam, it received DA (Development Approval) from the Townsville City Council in June 2016 (you can see the Town Planning Report they submitted by clicking here). They’ve signed a 13-year power purchase agreement with EnergyAustralia – with a new buried cable 132kV transmission line to connect the project to the Ross River Bulk Supply Substation being run to help facilitate the PPA. 

The project is funded via equity from the Palisade Renewable Energy Fund and three of Palisade’s clients, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), VicSuper and HESTA.

Palisade Managing Director and CEO, Roger Lloyd, said: “We are excited about this investment which further diversifies Palisade’s renewables portfolio. Palisade’s hands-on approach to taking greenfield projects through the development phase to financial close allows us to shape our investments in a way that minimises risk and maximises returns.”

According to an article from the Toowomba Chronicle, up to 250 North Queensland solar jobs are being created through this project. Downer Utilities, part of the listed Downer Group, is the lead construction contractor and you can click here to see their current solar job listings if you’re interested in joining the project.

The Ross River solar farm is set for completion later this year and is expected to operate for up to 40 years. We’ll keep you updated with any interesting developments we hear about it. 

Valdora solar farm (15MW) opened today.

Some good news coming from the Sunshine Coast this afternoon – today the Sunshine Coast Council have officially opened the 15MW Valdora solar farm. Atypical in that it is the first council in Australia to run its own large scale PV solar plant – and according to RenewEconomy it has the potential to save up to $20m in electricity. The Sunshine Coast Daily have it at $22m in savings over the next 30 years. Regardless of the final figure, it’s a massive feather in the cap of the SCC and will no doubt lead to plenty more councils following suit (the council said that 15 councils around Australia have inquired about the process). Queensland solar continues to move in leaps and bounds in both the public and private sector.

About the Valdora Solar Farm

Valdora Solar Farm
Valdora Solar Farm (source: couriermail.com.au)

According to Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson the completion of the Valdora Solar Farm means that the Sunshine Coast Council will be pioneers in the renewable energy field in that they will be the first in Australia to offset all of its electricity use through renewable energy. The $50.4m project was developed at Valdora, which is west of Coolum – and will sell power generated from 57,960 solar panels as of today.

Cr Jamieson, along with Cr Stephen Robinson (Sunshine Coast Council’s Development and Innovation Portfolio Councillor) and the director of Downer Utilities (part of the Downer Group, who were responsible for building the farm), Trevor Cohen, plugged into the grid at around 11am this morning. The Valdora solar farm, located on an old sugar farm, is able to generate 15MW and will be able to fully supply the council’s extended energy needs. “All power consumed at all of council’s facilities, including our administration buildings, aquatic centres, community and performance venues, as well as holiday parks, libraries, art galleries and sporting facilities,will be offset with energy from a renewable source thanks to this nation-leading project”, according to Cr Jamieson.

The SCC have signed a retail contract with Diamond Energy. The Managing Director of Diamond Energy, Tony Sennit, was quoted as “Over the past three years, Diamond Energy has supported council’s enthusiastic staff, through planning, implementation and now operation,”