The 500MW Wambo wind farm and associated big battery in the Western Downs region of Queensland has received planning approval from the state government, with construction expected to begin late next year.
The Wambo wind project is one of a number of massive new renewable energy projects committed or planned in Queensland. Co-developers Renewable Energy Partners and the UK-based Cubico also intend to add a big battery, provisionally sized at 50MW/200MWh, joining a growing number of battery projects with four hours of storage.
“We are excited to see the project reach this important milestone, having commenced work on the project in 2018,” said Luke McDonald, the CEO of Renewable Energy Partners.
“The site for the Wambo Wind Farm was chosen due to its excellent wind resource, strong transmission network, and low environmental impact. We are looking forward to working with Cubico and the local community to bring this project to completion.”
REP is also currently developing the 250MW Western Downs Solar Farm, the 1.5GW Bowen pumped hydro project and the 500MW Eungella wind farm.
Wambo – which will feature 110 wind turbines – is located around 20km north-east of Jandowae, and not far from the 453MW Coopers Gap wind farm that is nearing completion. It is one of nearly 30 large-scale wind and solar projects built, approved or under construction in the Western Downs council area, and will go ahead once off-take agreements and financing are in place.
“It is exciting to see another large-scale renewable energy project being developed in the Western Downs region,” the mayor of the Western Downs Regional Council, Paul McVeigh, said in a statement. “Council has played a strong role in supporting the growth of renewables and congratulates Cubico and Renewable Energy Partners on this important milestone.”
The state planning approval comes just days ahead of the state election, where the incumbent Labor government – which has a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 – is being challenged by the LNP opposition, which is opposed to such renewable energy targets.
“We are pleased to be developing a renewable energy project of this quality and scale that will assist the Queensland government in moving towards its target of 50% renewable energy generation by 2030,” Cubico Australia head David Smith said.
“Construction of Stage 1 of the wind farm is expected to begin in late 2021, creating around 200 jobs, and be fully operational in 2023, providing a further 20 jobs. Cubico has a strong commitment to working with the state, as well as the local governments and community, to deliver jobs that support regional Queensland.”
Cubico also announced that it had established a pre-construction community benefit fund of $50,000 to support local projects and initiatives for the communities near the Wambo wind farm. The fund will focus on “building sustainable communities and enhancing the safety, health and wellbeing of local people.”
An expanded community benefit fund is being established for the 30-year operational period of the project and will commence post-construction.