Global renewables giant FRV has won planning approval for its 150MW Lilyvale solar farm – the first large-scale solar development proposed for Queensland’s Central Highlands region and one of the largest projects of its kind planned for Australia.
The $400 million project, which will be located over 400 hectares near the Queensland town of Tieri, secured planning approval from the Central Highlands Regional Council on Friday.
The Council’s decision to approve the huge project coincided with the Queensland government’s decision to increase the capacity of its large-scale solar auction from 40MW to 60MW, as part of its effort to meet a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030.
Tieri – more than 900km north-west of Brisbane – has only been on the map since being established in 1983, as a service centre for local coal mining projects. And despite boasting solar irradiation levels FRV describes as among the highest in Australia, currently only has four small-scale solar PV installations, totaling 14.92 kW of capacity.
The new solar farm will use polycrystalline solar panels and a single-axis tracking system to maximise generation, and will be connected to the local grid via the nearby Lilyvale substation, using a new electricity transmission line.
FRV estimates that the construction phase, expected to last around 18 months and to commence sometime in 2016 to 2017, will create up to 200 jobs.
Central Highlands’ Mayor Cr Peter Maguire has described the project as “a significant vote of confidence in the region, and said it was “exactly the type of diversification of enterprise and economic focus that we need in the face of current challenges in the resource industry.”
Spain-based FRV (Fotowatio Renewable Ventures), which has developed more than 500MW of solar PV plants around the world, has had a presence in Australia since 2010, and is behind two of its biggest solar projects to date: the 20MW Royalla Solar Farm in the ACT, which has been fully operational since August 2014; and the 56MW Moree Solar Farm in NSW, which is under construction and expected to be completed by 2016.
It is also behind the proposed 150MW Clare Solar Farm project; which was recently called in by the Queensland state government in order to head off an appeal lodged in the Planning and Environment Court.