Western Downs green power hub council approval.

The Western Downs green power hub planned by French renewable giant Neoen has received council approval for a solar farm of size up to 500MW. This impressive project promises to bring  North Queensland solar jobs and continue the large-scale solar revolution in Queensland and Australia.

The Western Downs green power hub

The Western Downs green power hub
The Western Downs green power hub proposed location (source: westerndownsgreenpowerhub.com.au)

The Western Downs green power hub will be located 22km south of Chinchilla and 62km north west of Dalby, according to RenewEconomy. No word on the specifics of the gear they will use, but a huge 1500 hectares of ground mounted solar panels will feed two hectares of battery energy storage. This is going to be a gigantic undertaking.

According to the website for the green power hub, they’ll produce around 1.05MWh (million megawatt hours) per year.

“A combination of an ambitious Queensland Renewable Energy Target and a proactive government to meet those targets provide highly favourable conditions for renewable energy projects in the State,” Neoen says on the website.

“Consequently, the company will expedite the development of Western Downs Green Power Hub, as well as several other projects in Queensland.”

Construction was initially slated to commence in Q3 this year but it now looks like mid a 2019 start date will be more likely, according to the website.

“Construction is expected to start mid 2019 providing employment opportunities for the region.”

An article from the Chronicle in September last year (when it was being touted as a 250MW solar plant) noted that the consturction phase of the project will generate up to 300 solar jobs and between two to four during regular usage.

Neoen have been responsible for a number of huge projects across Australia recently:


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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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Eco Energy World’s Queensland Solar Farms

Eco Energy World, the UK based solar company who in 2016 promised to bring 1GW of PV Solar to Australia, have gained approval for three new Queensland solar farms.

Eco Energy World Queensland Solar

In a statement provided Tuesday, Eco Energy (founded in 2012, but founder Svante Kumlin also started solar PV module manufacturing facility Eco Supplies in 1993)  said the new plants, as with previously approved projects, will feed directly into the grid via a ‘merchant’ model. This means EEW will not need to sign any Power Purchase Agreements and will instead be free to offer the energy on the spot market at wholesale prices (they’ll also be eligible for large-scale renewable energy certificates).

So far their plans include:

  • 280MW in Bouldercombe
  • 140MW in Maryborough
  • 20MW in Chinchilla

The Chairman of Eco Energy World, Svante Kumlin, is quoted on their website as saying  “The solar revolution has only just started. Today, solar represents only 1% of the global energy market. By 2030, it will be 10% meaning that an additional 1600 GW of solar power plants will be constructed during this time and the market will grow 10 times.” Kumlin is also active on Twitter as @SvanteKumlin if you’re interested in following him.

EEW have developed more than 200MW of renewable energy projects and currently have over 500MW under development. According to their site they plan to develop the 1GW in the ‘coming 3 years’. The site doesn’t state that they are specifically talking about Australia but we will update with further details as they are available – according to the timelines below it shouldn’t be long before we hear more about EEW’s plans for Qld Solar.

Eco Energy World Queensland Solar Farm
Eco Energy World Logo (source: eew.solar)

Kumlin advised RenewEconomy that the new projects will increase large scale solar power generation in Queensland by “approximately 410MW’ will will create “hundreds of jobs and services”.  Construction on the projects will commence this year in Q3 and are expected to be connected directly to the grid by the end of the year. This unpopular model (i.e. eschewing Power Purchase Agreements in favour of selling directly on the sport market) will be one that’s definitely watched closely by other solar farm developers – it allows a lot more control and potentially a lot more profit but lacks the stability of a long term agreement with a  major utility.

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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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