Queensland's regional areas are set for a jobs boost with four major renewable energy projects nearing sign-off.
Queensland's regional areas are set for a jobs boost with four major renewable energy projects nearing sign-off. Image Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

The Queensland Government has welcomed progress on four major renewable energy projects set to create hundreds of construction jobs for regional Queensland.

On Thursday, the Palaszczuk Labor Government announced the signing of support deeds for three large-scale solar farms, to be built near the towns of Collinsville, Oakey and Longreach, each being supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) large-scale solar funding round.

The Queensland Government has negotiated support deeds with each of the projects under its “Queensland Solar 150” initiative. Under the initiative, the state Government will guarantee revenue through long-term contracts with the projects and aims to support the construction of 150 Megawatts of large-scale solar projects also receiving grant support from ARENA.

“This confirmation of the Whitsunday, Oakey and Longreach solar projects’ inclusion in the State’s Solar 150 program provides a 20-year revenue guarantee, meaning financial contracts can now be delivered and construction can begin.” Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey said.

“These projects are a sign of the times for regional Queensland’s major role in shaping the state’s transition to a renewable energy economy, and during construction will bring 196 much-needed jobs to the regions.”

The Whitsunday solar power station is set to see 58 Megawatts of solar installed near the township of Collinsville, with a total project value of $122.4 million. The project is being led by Edify Energy in partnership with Solar Choice, which estimates that 116 jobs will be created during construction.

“We look forward to the Whitsunday Solar Farm delivering clean green energy to the people of North Queensland and jobs to the Collinsville area,” Edify Energy Chief Executive John Cole said.

“The Queensland Government’s Solar 150 program, and the federal government’s ARENA large scale solar grant funding program had been instrumental in securing investment from our long term equity partner, Wirsol, to make the project a reality.”

Canadian Solar is the led developer for each of the Oakey and Longreach solar Farms, which are expected to drive a combined $77 million in investment, with the construction of 40 Megawatts of solar generation. Between the two projects, 80 construction jobs will be created, split between the two locations.

The announcement was joined by confirmation that the Coopers Gap Wind Farm, to by constructed near Kingaroy, had also received approval for its environmental impact statement. The wind farm is a 460 Megawatt project proposed by AGL Energy.

The Coopers Gap wind farm is set to be one of Australia’s largest, creating almost 200 jobs during the construction phase of the project. Investment in the wind farm will be made through the Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF), established by AGL Energy as it seeks to diversify its generation portfolio.

Earlier in the week, AGL Energy ranked as having the highest greenhouse gas emissions footprint of all Australian companies, according to updated data released by the Clean Energy Regulator. AGL currently operates Australia’s two most polluting power stations, Loy Yang in Victoria and Bayswater in New South Wales. AGL has also pledged to phase out its coal fleet no later than 2050.

The combined total investment anticipated across the four projects is over $700 million, with the Queensland Government welcoming the more than 500 construction jobs expected to be created in the State.

“The confidence shown in Queensland’s renewable future by these leading energy companies, from overseas and interstate, shows that my government’s policy settings have created an environment ripe for serious and sustainable investment.” Minister Bailey added.

“These projects underline the vital role that regional Queensland is already playing in our transition to a renewable energy economy.”

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