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. 

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Solar Q Gympie Solar Farm $2b Development Proposal Lodged

Solar Q, a Queensland based solar company, has lodged a development application with the Gympie Council as they are currently proposing to develop a $2b solar farm and battery storage 30km north-west of the city. Terrific news for renewable energy in Queensland and we are really excited to see how they manage the energy storage aspect of the project.

Solar Q MD Scott Armstrong

Managing director of Solar Q, Scott Armstrong, has been quoted by the ABC as advising the project is Australia’s biggest solar + energy facility. “To give you an idea of size, at ultimate design it will provide around 15 per cent of south-east Queensland’s energy requirements from both the solar panels and the 4,000 megawatt hours of energy storage,” Mr Armstrong said.

The plan is to build this amazing facility in stages, with the first stage (which Solar Q have already applied to build) totalling 350MW. This is slated to increase to 800MW by 2021 – enough electricity to power around 315,000 houses. The solar farm will connect to the grid at a Lower Wonga substation and can feed energy to Kilkivan, Gympie, Palmwoods, Caboolture, Beerwah – and will even be able to feed into North Brisbane and all the way north to Gin Gin and central Queensland.

Solar Q Gympie Solar Farm
Solar Q Gympie Solar Farm Approximate Location

The 17km2 site will house around 3 million solar panels and help ease the load on power stations during periods of peak consumption such as night time or during heatwaves.

To put these numbers into perspective, Queensland has the highest rate of business and residential solar in the country, a total of 1,805mw with over 32% of homes having solar panels installed. This project would increase the number by almost 50%, ensuring QLD can continue jostling with SA in the fight to be the solar capital of Australia. It looks like the 2020 RET (Renewable Energy Target) of 33,000 GWh of renewable sourced energy is still on track.

Renewable Energy Target 2020 Australia
Renewable Energy Target 2020 Australia (Source:cleanenergycouncil.org.au)

Gympie Solar Farm Project Description

As per the Gympie Times, the project will:

  • Generate around 735,000MWH/an which will power 127,000 homes (we assume this are figures for stage 1)
  • Generate 350MW of Solar PV.
  • Create 450 full time jobs for 18 months during construction.
  • Create 6-8 full time ongoing jobs.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 666 tonnes of co2 – which is as much as 180k cars.
  • Be housed on 572 hectares of cleared grazing land, adjacent to the Lower Wonga substation.

The Approval Process

Mick Curran, the Mayor of Gympie, was quoted as saying that “there doesn’t appear to be any great hurdles to overcome” – noting that the project will create 450 jobs during its construction and he would “certainly look forward personally to seeing all of these approvals come to fruition”. If there is no problem with the  Gympie Council or State Government Agencies, work on the Solar Q Gympie Solar Plant will start by the end of 2017.

The plant will be funded without government help – by a combination of private investors and superannuation management funds.

Watch this space for more information on this exciting development!

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