The massive Clarke Creek renewable energy project is poised to move to the construction phase after signing a deal with the Queensland government owned Stanwell Corp to buy most of the output of the first stage – a 450MW wind farm.
Stanwell, Queensland’s largest electricity generator, and which operates mostly coal fired power stations, said on Tuesday it had signed a 348MW Power Purchase Agreement for the 450MW first stage of the Clarke Creek wind farm, which is being developed by Goldwind Australia for owners Lacour Energy.
Goldwind has big plans for Clarke Creek, with a wind farm of up to 800MW, paired with a solar farm of between 200MW and 400MW, as well as a big battery.
It is the first major renewable energy off take deal for Stanwell, which supplies around 40 per cent of Queensland’s coal-fired power capacity through the 1460MW coal-fired Stanwell Power Station and the 1843MW Tarong power stations. It also owns the Mica Creek Power Station (gas), the Mackay Gas Turbine and the Wivenhoe small hydro generator.
The deal paves the way for construction of the $1 billion Clarke Creek project to begin in 2021, at its site 150 kilometres northwest of Rockhampton and 150 kilometres south of Mackay, in the Isaac and Livingstone Shire council areas.
It’s one of a number of large scale renewable energy deals signed off in recent months by state-owned utilities ahead of the state election in late October. The newly-formed CleanCo has signed up for the country’s biggest solar farm, the 400MW Western Downs facility to be built by Neoen, and also underwrote a deal for what is for the moment the country’s biggest wind project, the 1.1GW Macintyre wind project.
Goldwind Australia managing director John Titchen said the PPA with Stanwell was a clear demonstration of the state government’s commitment to the transition to a lower emission electricity sector. The Labor Palaszczuk government has renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, but the LNP opposition wants to scrap it.
“It has been a pleasure to work with the professional Stanwell team to progress this project which will bring substantial renewable energy investment and employment in regional Queensland,” Titchen said.
“The Power Purchase Agreement is very important to enable engagement with investors and banks to progress to the construction phase which is targeted to commence in mid-2021.”
Mark Rayner, director of Lacour Energy, said Clarke Creek represented an excellent combination of strong and predominantly night-time wind energy generation to complement Queensland solar production.
“The project’s location is on the backbone of Powerlink’s high voltage transmission network and the project scale will make a large contribution to Queensland’s renewable energy target,” Rayner said.
“Lacour Energy looks forward to continuing to work with all local stakeholders as we move to prepare for construction of the first-stage of the project.”
The 195 turbine project won state approval in June 2018, and then federal approval later that year. It also has approval for the addition of up to 400MW of large-scale solar and a grid-scale battery system, which would boost costs to $1.5 billion.
The first stage of the project is planned to include 101 Goldwind wind turbines totalling 450MW.