In a major coup for Australia’s renewables sector, construction will begin on the nation’s biggest solar farm near Chinchilla in Queensland’s Western Downs. 

Publicly-owned renewable generator CleanCo provided certainty to the solar farm being built. 

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the new farm would create up to 400 jobs and 400MW of renewable energy, enough to power about 235,000 Queensland homes.

Construction is set to commence in July 2020, and generation is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022. 

“The best thing we can do to support Queensland jobs is to support investment in our state,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Today we’re announcing support through CleanCo to unlock hundreds of jobs on the Darling Downs.”

Queensland Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad, said renewable energy company Neoen would sell 320MW of its output to Queensland’s new publicly-owned generator, CleanCo.

“As our economy emerges from the worst impacts of COVID-19, we need projects ready to go that will create jobs and stimulate spending, especially in regional Queensland,” Ms Trad said.

“CleanCo’s power purchase agreement enables Neoen to proceed with its Western Downs Green Power Hub project.

“This is CleanCo’s third investment on behalf of its owners, the people of Queensland, and means Queenslanders now have 820MW of new renewable energy in the pipeline.”

Queensland Energy Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said the PPA between Neoen and CleanCo would support regional jobs and grow the local economy.

“Neoen will maximise the use of suppliers and the local workforce in Chinchilla and the south-west to ensure the benefits of this development are shared in the region,” he said.

“It will also establish an annual $100,000 Community Benefit Fund that provides opportunities for local community-building initiatives for the duration of the project’s life.

“Importantly, this maintains Queensland’s progress towards the Palaszczuk Labor Government target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.”

Neoen Australia’s Managing Director, Louis de Sambucy, said Neoen was excited to work with CleanCo on one of its first renewable energy projects in Queensland.

“We are 100 per cent committed to delivering this landmark deal by making the most of the region’s abundant solar resources, the use of cutting-edge bifacial solar panel technology, and our experience in delivering groundbreaking solar farms on time and on budget.”

Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub is 22km south-east of Chinchilla and will connect to the electricity grid via a new overhead line to publicly-owned Powerlink’s existing Western Downs Substation.

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