The Queensland government has earmarked one of the state’s major coal centres as a future renewable energy hub, calling for expressions of interest to develop up to 450MW of large-scale solar, wind or biofuels on a 1,248 hectare patch near Gladstone.
In a document published on Thursday, Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) said it was seeking to enter into an agreement with an organisation or consortia that “will act quickly” to develop a large scale solar farm or other renewable energy facility on government-owned land at Aldoga, within the Gladstone State Development area.
Gladstone – which is home to a 1,680MW coal-fired power station, the state’s largest electricity generator – is also known for its shipping port, which is largely used to export Australian coal and, more recently, LNG.
The government’s proposal to build up to 450MW of renewable energy capacity at Aldoga – more than half of the total 719MW currently installed in the state – offers a neat illustration of the shifting momentum in global energy markets, while also supporting the Palaszczuk government’s target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.
Speaking to reporters at the site, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said the project would transform the region into “Australia’s largest renewable energy patch,” potentially generating power for up to 130,000 homes.
“We intend to turn this into a hub, a huge industry in renewables right here in Gladstone,” Butcher said.
“With this significant project we can put the region on the renewable energy map, creating economic uplift and local jobs,” he added.
“Already there is strong interest from the energy industry with 60 people taking part in an industry sounding forum.”
Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Jackie Trad, said the project had the potential to generate an immense amount of energy, not only for the Gladstone region, but for the entire state.
“The Palaszczuk government knows that renewable energy is incredibly important to the economic future of Queensland and this project will be an integral part of this,” she said.
“Solar, wind or biofuel renewable energies are all possible for this project and we are asking the industry to tell us their ideas for this site.”
Minister for Energy Mark Bailey said the largely flat site was well suited to renewables given its close proximity to a cost effective high-voltage network.
“It has the potential to support 450MW of renewable energy and is located adjacent to Powerlink’s Larcom Creek substation which means we have the ability to connect the project straight into the grid,” he said.
The Aldoga site will be EDQ’s flagship renewable energy project and is part of the government’s Advancing Our Cities and Regions Strategy, which aims to renew and repurpose underutilised state land to generate jobs, and drive economic growth.
Expressions of interest can be lodged here, and will close on 24 May 2017.