Construction on Queensland’s largest wind farm project, the 180MW Mount Emerald wind farm near Mareeba in North Queensland, will begin in December 2016 following financial close.
Queensland Minister for Energy, Mark Bailey, said the Atherton Tableland’s Mount Emerald wind farm is an example of industry and investor confidence in the State Government’s ambition to drive new renewable energy investment and jobs in our regions.
“This project now has engineering, procurement and construction contracts in place, a long-term operations and maintenance contract, a 25-year grid connection agreement with Powerlink, and finance secured,” Mr Bailey said.
“It follows government-owned Ergon Energy’s commitment to purchase all of the electricity generated by the wind farm through to the end of 2030 having completed an expression of interest process last year consistent with the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to renewable energy.
“The project is being developed by major renewable investor Ratch Australia and will boost Queensland investment by $380 million, creating 150 direct jobs during construction, which is expected to commence in early December.”
Mr Bailey said the project will create opportunities throughout North Queensland’s local supply chain, including the towers and turbine being brought through the Cairns port and transported to site, and there will also be requirements to employ local professional services.
“The Palaszczuk Government has made its renewable intentions abundantly clear – to create jobs of the future, boost investment and act on climate change,” Mr Bailey said.
Queensland Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, said Far Northern Queenslanders have wanted a power station for a long time and now one is in the pipeline that will be 100 per cent carbon neutral, using the latest technology.
“This is a great way of diversifying the Tablelands’ economy and innovating for the future,” Mr Pitt said.
“In terms of direct investment and economic activity, the projections are for more than $400 million in total expenditure in the region over the two-year construction period and 25-year life of the project. Indirectly the flow-on benefits are estimated to be around $1 billion to the local economy over that same period.
“Crucially this will deliver new job opportunities in an area of need here in the Far North.
“At the election the Palaszczuk Government promised to be committed to innovation and work to deliver the jobs, opportunities and industries of the future – which is exactly what this project does.”
Queensland Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland, Coralee O’Rourke, said the government expects to see more projects like the Mount Emerald wind farm to be delivered across the state in the coming years.
“These include six renewable projects through the latest ARENA process being built across the state, including in Georgetown, Oakey, Longreach, and two projects in the Whitsundays,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“These projects position Queensland as a leader for renewable energy investment and combined, will deliver $630 million of new investment, creating around 600 direct jobs and hundreds more indirect jobs in our regions.
“They are part of a pipeline of 2,500 megawatts of proposed projects across the state and form part of our long-term commitment to this dynamic new industry.”
Mr Bailey said an independent expert panel was appointed in January 2016 to investigate credible pathways to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 for Queensland.
“The expert panel’s Credible Pathways draft report identified $6.7 billion of investment will be required, delivered for Queensland under a 50 per cent renewable energy target,” Mr Bailey said.
“They also estimated the target would deliver more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs each year, primarily in regional Queensland.
“Importantly, the expert panel also projected a 50 per cent target would have a cost-neutral impact on electricity consumers over the 14 year period, and that security and reliability of supply would be maintained for Queenslanders.
“The Palaszczuk Government is growing an exciting renewable energy future for Queensland. This clean energy industry will provide long-term benefits for Queenslanders by creating jobs, and boosting economic growth.”