A planned 250 MW solar farm near Gladstone in Queensland has received development approval from the Queensland Government and is set to deliver hundreds of new jobs to the region.
The Aldoga solar farm, under development by Spanish group Acciona Energy, received development approval from the independent Coordinator-General for planning, and is set to rank amongst Queensland’s largest solar projects once it goes ahead.
Gladstone is already home to the 1,680MW Gladstone coal-fired power station, as well as some of Australia’s largest coal-export and LNG export terminals, but is also becoming a centre for large scale solar projects.
The Queensland minister for planning Cameron Dick welcomed approval of the solar farm, which is expected to create 240 jobs during the construction phase of the project, and 10 ongoing jobs once operational.
“At maximum capacity the $400 million solar farm will generate around 250 megawatts of energy, which is enough to supply approximately 122,000 homes annually,” Dick said.
“Over the lifetime of the project, this will see a total of $1.5 million to $3.6 million put back into Gladstone and surrounding areas.” Acciona has committed to the local sourcing of parts and services from the Gladstone region.
Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham said the solar farm will help us to reduce emissions and “tackle a changing climate”.
The project will have additional flow through benefits for the community, with Acciona to establish a community benefit fund to provide financial support for local school and education programs, with total benefits estimated to range from $1.5 million to $3.6 million over the life of the project.
Economic Development Queensland a government entity was established to seek opportunities to redeploy underutilised state lands, has leased the 1,250 hectare site for the project to Acciona.
The deal formed part of the Queensland Government’s ‘Advancing our cities and regions strategy’, allowing otherwise unused Government lands to be put to good use.
Acciona signed an agreement with the Queensland Government in April last year, securing the use of the Gladstone site for a 30-year period, winning a competitive tender against four other proponents for use of the land.
Development approval for the Gladstone solar farm comes in the midst of the washout from the election, where jobs in regional Queensland was a crucial issue turning votes for the Morrison government.
The Gladstone solar project, one of many under development in the region, highlights the options that are available for jobs creation in Queensland that aren’t reliant on the further development of the fossil fuel industry.
Construction of the Aldoga solar farm is expected to commence in early 2020, and will take 12-18 months for completion.
The Aldoga project adds to Acciona’s growing renewables portfolio, having previously completed the Waubra, Gunning and Cathedral rocks wind farms, and becomes Acciona’s second solar farm, following the 20MW Royalla Solar farm in the ACT.