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Queensland’s biggest wind farm approved, may add solar and storage

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The federal renewable energy target may well be considered met by analysts and regulators, but the number of huge wind and solar projects in the development pipeline continues to rapidly expand.

The latest is the 800MW Clarke Creek wind farm in central Queensland, which has received development approval from the state government, and could be built alongside a 400MW solar farm that has also received planning approval, and battery storage.

The $1 billion project (that’s for the wind component) is located around half way between Rockhampton and Mackey, in the Isaac regional council, and is adjacent to major transmission lines.

Mark Rayner, the director of developer Lacour Energy, says there is still strong demand for renewable energy in a number of regions, from retailers and other coporate buyers.

The Queensland market is also being underpinned by the government’s stated target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, although it has yet to outline exactly what mechanisms, if any, it will use to reach the target.

Rayner says Lacour is conducting a feasibility study that will be complete by the end of the year, and construction could begin early in 2019. The entire project could account for around 3 per cent of the state’s total electricity demand.

Clarke Creek is just one of a number of major projects that propose to marry wind, solar and storage.

Windlab is building the first stage of the Kennedy renewable energy hub, that could combine 1200MW of wind and solar plus batteries,

French renewable energy developer Neoen has unveiled plans for another renewable energy hub combining 180MW of wind and battery storage near Cairns, and a 500MW solar and battery storage project in the Western Downs.

And, of course, there is the Kidston solar farm and pumped hydro project, which may also include wind energy, that is being developed by Genex Power, with an announcement on financing and contracts soon.

(Listen to our latest Energy Insiders podcast with Genex director Simon Kidston here).

“The Clarke Creek Wind and Solar Farm development is a unique renewable energy project which combines excellent wind and solar resources at a location directly adjacent to the backbone of the Powerlink 275 kV transmission network,” Rayner says.

” The wind farm development approval is a significant milestone for the project and we look forward to completing the feasibility study by the end of the year so that construction can begin in early 2019.”

The wind farm will consist of up to 195 wind turbines with a total wind farm capacity over 800 MW, while the solar farm – which was approved by the council earlier this year – could range in size from 200MW to 400MW.

The project website says the project extends across the land of eight local families, with the wind turbines located on the mountain range and the solar farm on the lower ground near the Marlborough-Sarina Road.

The project is in an area of high wind and solar resources and close to an existing main road from Marlborough to Sarina,” it says,

The company  is urging companies and individuals – particularly those based in central Queensland – who want to be involved in the construction of this exciting project to register their interest on the project’s website.

It estimates the project will inject $50-$100 million into the local economy during the construction through the employment of local contractors and service providers, with $200,000 set aside each year in a “community benefits” package.

  

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  • wideEyedPupil

    When is the last time you saw a fracking company set up a $200,000 per year ongoing community benefits package for a single gas field? Hit and run more like it.

    Sponsoring a states cultural events (hello Chevron) isn’t the same thing, that’s (distasteful) paid advertising.

    • john

      To answer your Question never.

    • Joe

      A bit like Adani ‘funding’ THOSE 4 jobs from the local council.

  • Joe

    Has the Abbott sent his Wind Commissar, the Dyer, to check for new ‘victims’ of Wind Turbines?

    • Andy Saunders

      To be fair to Andrew Dyer, his actions seem to have accelerated wind-farm take-up…

      • Joe

        Why hasn’t the Abbott sacked the Dyer?

        • Andy Saunders

          I don’t think Abbott is in charge of those sorts of things now!

          I think it’s quite convenient for Malcolm Turnbull to leave him there facilitating wind farm permitting…

          • Joe

            I was being a bit sarcastis but not totally in view of the Abbott and his recent outrage at Dr Schott when she blew the whistle that building new Coalers is not going to happen.

    • Ken Dyer

      Don’t you give Uncle Andrew a hard time ;~). He is flat out doing not much at all.
      That said, this renewable energy is the best thing that has come out of Queensland, ever, and not one giant hole will be dug.
      Disclaimer: I am not a rellie….

  • Phil NSW

    Given Gladstone Power Station is nearing its serviceable life (relatively speaking), I would think the local aluminium industry would be trying to establish a cheap source of power to keep the refinery and smelter operational. Haven’t considered the mine life at Weipa though.

    • john

      Yes if the Aluminium Smelter can mitigate the power cost during the day and perhaps at night it would be beneficial very much so.
      Weipa is just a little way away about 1000 kms.

    • Steven Gannon

      Theres a lot more bauxite on the western side of the Cape, not just Weipa.

      • Mike Westerman

        And zinc at Macarthur R

  • john

    The really astonishing take out from this it the Payment to local community.
    with $200,000 set aside each year in a “community benefits” package.

    I think $200,000 is rather a large amount of money to be paid to a local community.
    There are not exactly not many people in that area.

    Regardless of that I hope the large wind farm and both stages of Solar go ahead.

  • Bill Jones

    Whats the probability of this going forward given that the MLFs in the region have moved from .97 to forecast .91 for 2018? A c.6% hit to your revenue on an ongoing basis is pretty impactful on any funding model?

    • GlennM

      Well any decrease is bad news…But I suspect that 6% is only the equivalent of about 9 months of price drop in the technology cost, so by the time the parts are ordered they will be more than 6% cheaper anyway. There have been a few articles saying that Solar costs are expected to fall about 30% this year so the solar side of the development is even better now than a week ago.

      • Bill Jones

        My understanding is the 6% drop is not a one off (its every year going forward), where as the technology costs is a one off (and the solar components make up a very small portion of the capital costs). The degradation is going to have a big impact on the NPVs of these projects and the hurdle rates (IRR) the funding partners require.

  • john

    If anyone is interested this map shows the Energy Generators in Qld.
    https://maps.dnrm.qld.gov.au/electricity-generation-map/

  • Glynn Palmer

    The 800MW Clarke Creek wind farm in central Queensland could account for around 3% of Queensland’s total electricity demand.

    Queensland has the lowest penetration of renewable electricity with 8% of generation. This compares with: Tasmania 88%; South Australia 45%; Victoria 16%; West Australia 14%; New South Wales 11%. The average in Australia is 17%.
    https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/policy-advocacy/reports/clean-energy-australia-report.html

    However Queensland has the highest penetration of roof top solar to the point of concern that the peak, middle of the day generation, is creating concerns that too much energy is flooding into the electricity grid, and could cause blackouts as the system struggles to control the excess power.
    https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/the-economy/too-much-of-a-good-thing-solar-power-surge-is-flooding-the-grid-20180606-p4zjs7.html

    • Mike Westerman

      Interesting that there are “concerns” being raised in several regions recently about “too much solar”, while our existing pumped hydros site at almost non-existent levels of utilisation. That should be a blaring klaxon that the magic of the market is not working in the best interests of customers, or efficient use of supply or promotion of efficient investment.

      It speaks volumes to Federal level policies pushing in disparate directions.

    • nakedChimp

      Once solar pv feeds ‘more than enough’ into the grid the voltage rises above a threshold and the inverters shut down.
      The voltage setting of the transformers in most areas are set on the high side by the supplier anyway, so there could be margin and space for more solar.. but it’s not actually pursued.