Another large-scale solar project has been approved for development in Queensland, this time a 30MW PV power plant in the state’s Western Downs region, to be built by Spanish renewables group, FRV.
Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, the developer behind the Moree and Royalla (pictured below) solar farms, said last week it had received approval from the Western Downs Regional Council to develop the project, near the town on Dalby in Queensland, 200km north-west of Brisbane.
Council spokesman Andrew Smith said the region was well-placed to host large-scale solar developments, with ready access to electricity networks on broad-acre lands that get a lot of sun.
“We are committed to providing a stable and regulatory environment to encourage private sector investment and support opportunities for the industry in suitable locations,” he said.
Queensland, while late to the big solar party, appears now to be making up for lost time, and has been predicted by the likes of Bloomberg New Energy Finance to become the epicentre of large-scale solar development in Australia, because of its excellent resource, sprawling grid and demand growth.
As PV Magazine has noted, Queensland, unlike the rest of Australia, has seen an uptick in electricity demand, largely due to a number of large LNG projects coming online, which draw huge amounts of power from the grid. Queensland utility Ergon has tendered for 150MW of large-scale PV to meet part of this demand.
Construction of the FRV 30MW project is set to take place over the next 12 months and to create 90 jobs during the construction phase.
Dalby is also the site of Origin Energy’s proposed 106.8MW Darling Downs Solar Farm, which has been invited by to tender for ARENA’s latest large-scale solar auction round.
ARENA expects to announce the successful bidders in September, but among the shortlist of 22 projects, 10 were planned for Queensland.
FRV, which has had a presence in Australia since 2010, has also recently secured planning approval for the much larger 150MW Lilyvale solar farm in Queensland’s Central Highlands region.
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 in September 2015.
As we reported at the time, 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.
And in May, FRV secured a 13-year power purchase agreement with Origin Energy for its 100MW Clare Solar Farm, soon to be built in north Queensland.
The deal marked the first ever struck in Australia between a retailer and a private developer of a solar project, and heralded a step change in the large-scale renewable energy sector, with signs that new contracts are being signed for the first time in years, and technology shifting from mostly wind to a balance of wind and solar.