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. 

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Wandoan solar farm will add 1,000MW to QLD solar.

Singaporean renewable energy company Equis Energy have advised they are planning on building a 1,000MW solar farm (which would be the largest solar farm in Australia) in Wandoan. The Wandoan solar farm will be situated right in the middle of Queensland’s coal and gas region – in Queensland’s area of the Surat Basin. This is exciting news for Queensland solar and Australian solar farms in general – it could potentially be one of the biggest solar farms in the world.

About the Wandoan Solar Farm

Wandoan Solar Farm Location
Wandoan Solar Farm Location (source: chinchillanews.com.au)

The farm, which would add to the existing 4,000MW of renewable energy currently planned for QLD, will cover 1424 hectares and generate between 300 and 400 jobs during construction. According to the Toowoomba Chronicle, the $2 billion project will commence construction in the next 12 months and work will be staggered over a three year period.

Paul McVeigh, the Western Downs Regional Council Mayor, was quoted in the Chronicle as saying the farm will represent a significant investment in the area – “It’s a $2 billion construction cost and of that we expect at least 50 per cent of that to be invested in the local community,” Cr McVeigh said. According to the Chinchilla News it is a $1.5 billion investment, but whichever price the farm ends up costing there’s no doubt it’ll be a massive boon to the community if it goes ahead.

Cr McVeigh was also quoted in the Chinchilla News about the way Equis and the Western Downs council are approaching the approval process: “Equis has expressed their desire to be proactive in their consultation with neighbours of this project site, and that aligns with the business model we are promoting for renewable energy projects. The time-frame in which council has processed this application highlights the message we are open for business, and I think it is important to reiterate that although our approval process is rigorous, it is efficient.”

Lastly, McVeigh discussed the myriad options the area has with regards to energy needs: “We have our coal and coal-fire powered stations and coal seam gas…(now) we have a third wave of energy with solar farms, wind farms about to start construction on and also the ethanol plan near Dalby.”

No word yet on the specifics of the site or if it’ll include any storage, but we’ll update this article as soon as we have any news about the farm.


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