Construction has begun on Australia’s first gigawatt scale wind project – the 1.026GW MacIntyre complex in south west Queensland – that is being built at a cost of $2 billion.
The complex will comprise two wind farms – the 923MW MacIntyre facility that is majority owned by Spanish energy giant Acciona, and the 103MW Karara wind farm which will be owned and operated by state-owned CleanCo.
The MacIntyre wind complex will be nearly double the size of Australia’s current biggest wind farm, the 530MW Stockyard Hill project in Victoria, although that project has yet to reach full production due to commissioning delays.
Most of the capacity from MacIntyre is being contracted to CleanCo – the Karara component that it will own and another 400MW from the main project.
It will also help power and decarbonise one of the biggest energy consumers in the state, the Sun Metals zinc refinery near Townsville.
Ark Energy, part of the Korea Zinc group that operates the zinc refinery, has a 30 per cent stake in the MacIntyre wind component.
The start of the construction signals something of a boom in construction in wind and solar projects in Queensland.
These include the 420MW Western Downs solar farm in the south-west, and the 157MW Kaban wind farm in the north of the state, and the 180MW Dulacca wind farm, also in the north of the state, all of them with contracts with CleanCo.
Andrew Forrest’s Squadron Energy has also begun construction of the 450MW stage one component of the Clarke’s Creek wind project in Queensland.
The MacIntyre project represents by far the biggest contract landed by German-based Nordex, which will provide 180 of its Nordex Delta 4000 turbines, each with a power rating of 5.7MW.
It will also be the largest wind farm operated by Acciona in the world, and will triple its renewable production capacity in Australia.
Acciona is also building the Aldoga solar farm in a deal with another government owned entity Stanwell, to provide clean power for a green hydrogen project.
Acciona said in a statement that construction is expected to be completed in 2024, and will make up for delays caused by the Covid19 pandemic and associated supply difficulties.
It says the MacIntyre complex will generate clean electricity to supply the equivalent of nearly 700,000 homes and avoid the emission of around 3 million tonnes of CO2 each year