A battery storage-ready solar farm of between 150-240MW in size has been approved for development in Queensland’s Western Downs, marking the third major PV project to get the nod in that region in less than two months, and the ninth overall.
The Toowoomba Chronicle reported on Tuesday that the Western Downs Regional Council had approved construction of APA Group’s Beelbee Solar Farm, which will feed between 150MW and 240MW into the grid and has the potential for up to 100MW of battery storage.
Construction is expected to bring 450 jobs when works start with six full-time operation staff once complete.
The Beelbee Solar Farm is the second in the region for APA Group, after it bought the 110MW Darling Downs Solar Farm from Origin Energy in May this year. As part of that deal, APA secured a power offtake contract with Origin to buy the farm’s solar output until 2030, as well as the option over the nearby Beelbee project.
Western Downs Deputy Mayor Andrew Smith said APA had “expressed desire to work with local contractors and businesses wherever possible”.
“What a month it’s been and I’m told there’s even more development applications in the pipeline,” Cr Smith said.
“Complementing their Darling Downs Solar Farm, their commitment to bring another renewable energy project to our region highlights the Western Downs’ economic strength and impressive portfolio on the solar energy scene.
“Our planning and development assessment team have established a reputation for fast application turnaround times, approving this latest development in less than six weeks.”
In August this year, Singapore-based renewables developer Equis Energy announced it had won approval from the Western Downs Council to build a 1,000MW solar farm – which would be Australia’s largest – in the heart of Queensland’s coal and gas region in the Surat Basin.
The Wandoan solar farm, which will be built near the town of the same name, is expected to be built in stages, and Equis could go bigger – this plant is likely to cover 1,400 hectares but is has more than 5000 hectares available.
Also in August, international oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s New Energies division revealed it had won planning approval for the 250MW Delga Solar Farm, also in Western Downs, to be developed in partnership with Singapore-based group Sunseap.
And in January this year, Luminous Energy won development approval for the 300MW Broken Hill Solar Farm to be built between the Western Downs towns of Miles and Chinchilla, that will generate enough energy to power around 110,000 homes.
Other large-scale renewable energy projects approved by the council include a 30MW solar project by FRV, a 20MW solar plant near Chinchilla by Eco Energy World, and the 450MW Coopers Gap wind farm.
“We’ve fully embraced the future of renewables and energy production in our region,” Mayor Paul McVeigh said in a statement on the council’s website at the time of the Shell project approval.
“This interest from a leading multi-national energy company to invest in renewable energy in our region is a great boost to the Western Downs’ already impressive energy portfolio.”