Plans to build more than 2GW of wind generation capacity in and around the Queensland coal power hub of Gladstone have been unveiled, with Sydney-based Energy Estate joining forces with global outfit RES on the major project.
The two companies said on Monday that they were collaborating on the so-called Central Queensland Power Project (CQP), which plans to deliver over 2GW of wind, solar and storage, as well as new transmission infrastructure.
“The shared CQP vision is to accelerate the decarbonisation of heavy industry and the community in Central Queensland,” a joint statement said.
“This is consistent with a ‘Just Transition’, helping to support Gladstone’s communities and the industrial eco-system through the supply of low carbon energy.
“There will also be potential for local companies to benefit from longer-term fixed energy prices through power purchase agreements (PPAs).”
The project is separate to the existing and neighbouring Rodd’s Bay project – a 300MW solar project with around 82MW/I64MWh of battery storage – that is set to begin construction in the second half of this year by Energy Estate affiliate Renew Estate, just south of Gladstone, pending commercial outcomes.
The CQP also builds on the successes that RES has already notched up in Queensland, including its 72MW Emerald solar farm and 180MW Dulacca wind farm.
The companies said the concept driving the CQP project was to accelerate the development of an integrated portfolio of strategically located wind, solar and energy storage projects in the Fitzroy Renewable Energy Zone over the coming decade.
This included creating “a robust and resilient supply chain” for the renewable energy sector in Queensland using the natural advantages of the region and port at Gladstone – the latter best known as a busy coal and gas shipping port.
“This is a transition story,” Energy Estate’s Simon Currie told RenewEconomy on Monday. “It’s about … accelerating the energy transition of heavy industry around this critical region.
“We are developing renewable energy projects which will deliver a mix of wind, solar and storage… allowing for blended generation to create a firmed renewable electricity supply … and stimulate the development of new industries such as green hydrogen,” Currie added in a written statement.
Simon Corbell, the former ACT energy minister and renewable energy advocate for Victoria, who is chief advisor at Energy Estate, says it’s not just about transitioning Australia to a renewable energy market, but also about making it a “just transition” for Australia’s “carbon workers.”
Corbell told RenewEconomy that the consortium was in discussions with government, investors and potential customers. It would likely be built in stages
“We want to show that renewables can power continued growth and development of port of Gladstone in Queensland, ” Corbell said of the centre that had previously focused on coal fired generation, and features LNG exports and major cement, alumina and aluminium production, refineries and smelters.
“We see CQP as a proposition that enables those business to have a long term future with a decarbonised and reliable long term energy supply. We want renewables to be about protection of the existing workforce and businesses. It is a very important proposal for the future development of Gladstone.”
He said the jobs created by the project will rely on skills that are already readily available in Gladstone – construction, engineering, civil earthworks, fencing and security, electrical, geotech, transportation and logistics.
“As they proceed through development, construction and operations, in total the projects are expected to create over a thousand local jobs and the overall investment in the projects will inject millions of dollars into the local economy,” he said in a statement.
“The wider Gladstone area is ideally placed for innovative, transitional training as well as re- skilling to create an emerging green energy work force in Central Queensland to meet the needs of a transforming energy sector,” he added.
“We intend to partner with the communities close to these projects in such a way as to assist them to build resilience against climate fluctuations, job transitions and social change.”
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