Queensland is set to be host to one of the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farms after the Queensland government facilitated a deal that will see the 1,200MW Forest Wind project built in the State’s south-east.
Plans for the Forest Wind project would see the construction of 1,200MW of wind turbines in Queensland’s Wide Bay region in the state’s south-east, as part of a $2 billion investment that will significantly boost the state’s renewable energy generation.
Once operational, the Forest Wind project would be one of the largest wind farms in the southern hemisphere, and would provide enough power for more than 550,000 homes, and would create up to 440 new jobs during the construction phase of the project and an additional 50 long-term operational jobs.
“This is enough power for all homes across the Wide Bay-Burnett, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast combined, or the entire Brisbane City Council area,” Queensland minister for state development Cameron Dick said.
“This could increase Queensland’s installed power generation capacity by approximately nine per cent.”
The project is the result of facilitated negotiations by the Queensland government, that culminated in the creation of a joint venture between Noosaville based project developers CleanSight and investors Siemens Financial services.
“Siemens has a long and proud history in Queensland and Australia dating back almost 150 years,” Siemens Australia CEO Jeff Connolly said. “The company has provided critical leading technology supporting infrastructure and industry – ranging from energy to water, transport, agribusiness, manufacturing, mining and resources, healthcare and even sugar and beer.
“This new partnership and joint venture is a natural extension of our relationship.”
The Forest Wind project has been progressed as part of Queensland government facilitated negotiations between project developers and investors, under the government’s “investment facilitation” initiative, administered by the Queensland Government’s Investment Facilitation and Partnerships Group.
“This group aims to provide a clear entry point for major investment projects and a customised and streamlined pathway to decision-makers across government,” Dick added.
The Queensland government have offered the project an “exclusive transaction”, which will see the government streamline and prioritise its engagement with the project, in recognition of its scale and contribution to the Queensland economy.
The project will be developed on lands that currently consist of state forests, with the Queensland government confident the wind farm will be able to operate in harmony with the pine timber plantations.
By utilising the space within the pine plantations, the project will effectively establish a 3 kilometre buffer zone between the project and the closest residential areas.
“We will work closely with Forest Wind Holdings to leverage complementary opportunities for improvements in fire protection and road access in the estate, and to ensure there is minimal impact on timber production,” HQPlantations CEO Jeremy Callachor said.
The project will now undergo the usual planning approval process, but the proponents believe construction could commence by the fourth quarter of 2020, with the first electricity being generated sometime in 2023.
There is a substantial pipeline of new renewable energy projects proposed for Queensland, estimated to be more than 18,000MW of proposed generation. If the Forest Wind project is completed, it would dwarf Queensland’s largest wind farm, the AGL’s Coopers Gap project which is under construction, which will have a maximum capacity of 453MW when completed.