REP to fast track 500MW wind component of “battery of the north” renewables hub

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Renewable Energy Partners have decided to fast-track the 500MW wind component of the huge “battery of the north” renewable energy hub, as state authorities launched the start of the environmental assessment of the dam proposal that will form the basis of the pumped hydro component of the project.

The Eungella wind project will form part of the Bowen Renewable Energy Hub, located in the hinterland in the Mackay region, and RES is looking to gain environmental and planning approvals to take advantage of the state’s growing interest in wind energy.

REP have also proposed another 500MW wind project at Wambo, in the state’s south west, which will likely be paired with a big battery of 50MW and 200MWh – adding to the new wind projects in the state that include the early complete Coopers Gap wind farm, the Clarke’s Creek wind project and Neoen’s Kaban renewable energy hub,

The news came as state authorities took a step forward with the environmental approvals process for the massive Bowen hub, which will include a 1.4GW pumped hydro component with up to 8 hours storage over two locations, up to 1.3GW of large scale solar, a major 200MW hydrogen electrolyser, and significant transmission infrastructure, as well as the Eungalla wind farm.

On Saturday, the state co-ordinator general published the draft terms of reference for the environmental impact statement that will be needed to improve the central part of the Down hub, the Urannah hydro project, and a 1.5 million megalitre dam, on the Broken River and about 80kms west of Mackay and 90kms south east of Collinsville.

Luke Mcdonald, the CEO of REP,  says this is a significant step for the proposed hub, and follows on from the hub (and the broader Urannah Water Scheme) being declared a Co-ordinated Project by the Queensland Office of the Coordinator General.

REP has been working with a group of energy advisors – including GHD, EY and DNV – on a pre-feasibility study funded by the federal government.
If it goes ahead, it would rank as one of the “big three” long duration storage projects in the country, along with Snowy 2.0 and Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation project. Like those projects, Bowen is likely to face scrutiny over its environmental credentials, and possibly resistance from market rivals and competitors.
Mcdonald says the Bowen hub would be so big it could satisfy much of the state’s remaining requirements to reach its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, and would be useful to replace the Callide and Gladstone generators which are both tipped to retire over the next decade.
“We have decided to bring forward the development of the 500MW Eungella Wind Farm (being the wind component of the Hub) to take advantage of the streamlined approval process for wind farms in Queensland,” he said, along with the strong demand for wind projects in Queensland and the recent announcement of the $500 million Queensland Renewable Energy Fund.
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