THE Fraser Coast could realise its goal of being the renewable energy capital of Queensland as soon as this year, after a massive solar farm was approved by the FCR council.
Plans for a 400.67ha solar farm home to 375,000 solar panels at Munna Creek, near Bauple, was approved by the Fraser Coast council on Thursday.
The decision comes after three other sites were given the green light last year by council to host solar farms.
The facility will be developed by Renewable Energy System Technologies over three stages and involve the transport of hundreds of thousands of solar panels.
Stage 1 involves the preparation of the site, including roads and parking, while the solar panels will be transported and installed at the site during stage 2.
Stage 3 will comprise of post construction works including rehabilitation work to Blowers Rd and broader drainage and landscape treatments.
Once completed, the project is expected to generate many thousands of kilowatts in electricity to connect to the Ergon network.
It is yet undeterined as to how many jobs the solar farm would create.
The project’s approval marks the fourth major renewable initiative in the Fraser Coast.
It comes after a major deal was struck with a London based hedge fund to deliver two Queensland solar farms with capital costs of more than $300 million.
Australian solar developer Esco announced affiliates of Elliott Advisers would take 100 per cent of the Susan River solar farm, near Maryborough, and the Childers solar farm, near Bundaberg.
Both projects have now reached financial close, but neither has an offtake agreement meaning the electricity generated will be sold into the spot market.
Esco managing director Steve Rademaker said Elliott was prepared to fund the projects through to connection, entirely with equity.
Esco will remain as asset managers under a long-term contract.
Esco Pacific Managing Director and founder Steve Rademaker said Australian merchant solar remains an attractive opportunity for experienced investors.
“Esco looks forward to bringing jobs and growth to regional Australia through its extensive pipeline of highly advanced projects currently under development,” Mr Rademaker said.
Two major projects in Teebar and North Aramara were approved last year with construction pending.
Teebar Clean Energy director Greg McGarvie said the company was currently resolving the regulatory requirements to start construction on their multi-million dollar project.
“We’re working towards resolving everything so we can get a start on the project,” Mr McGarvie said.
Infrastructure councillor Denis Chapman said the boom in major renewable projects was “something out of the future”.
“Any work in this region is a bonus, we’ve got to generate employment, and this is the way forward,” Cr Chapman said.
“The more of these projects we can approve for the region, the more prosperous we will become
Commencement of construction of Esco Pacific’s Childers And Susan River Solar Farms in Queensland isn’t far off, and other Esco large-scale PV projects are progressing.
Childers River Solar Farm
To be situated 60km south of the Bundaberg’s CBD and 15km south-east from the township of Childers, the project web site states the facility will be up to 120MW (NewsMail reports it as being 75MW). Esco Pacific states the facility will consist of approximately 400,000 solar panels mounted on single axis trackers. Development approval for the project was granted by Bundaberg Regional Council in December 2016 and construction is expected to start in the next month or two.
Susan River Solar Farm
Approved by Fraser Coast Regional Council in December 2016, the $175-million Susan River Solar Farm will be up to 100MW capacity and built on a site approximately 17 kilometres from Hervey Bay. The Susan River project web site indicates the ~350,000 solar panels will be either be fixed or mounted on horizontal trackers. Construction of the facility is expected to start in the second quarter of this year and involves a build time of approximately 12 months.
Other Esco PV Projects
Also in the works is Ross River Solar Farm, which should be completed before the end of the year. Located 20 kilometres south of Townsville, the 148MW facility will generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 54,000 homes.
“It is clear that Australian merchant solar remains an attractive opportunity for experienced investors,” said ESCO Pacific managing director and founder Steve Rademaker. “ESCO looks forward to continue bringing jobs and growth to regional Australia through its extensive pipeline of highly advanced projects currently under development.”
The company has also secured planning approvals for three other solar farms – Munna Creek (QLD – 120MW), Rollingstone (QLD – 110MW) and Koberinga (QLD – up to 55MW).
Last month, we reported the company had proposed a 140MW solar farm that may include battery storage for a site near the town of Mulwala in New South Wales.
Also in New South Wales, ESCO’s Finley Solar Farm is awaiting approval. To be located to the west of the township of Finley in the Berrigan Shire Council region, the facility will be up to 170 MW capacity. At that size, it will boast around half a million solar panels. As the project is classified a State Significant Development, the application is being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning.