Gladstone Getting Its Large-Scale Solar On

Solar farms for Gladstone, Queensland

Image: Renew Estate

A proposed solar farm project near Gladstone may be shifting sites, while a couple of other projects in the pipeline for the region will be among the largest PV facilities in Australia.

The proposed Yarwun Solar Farm is a 32 megawatt project located approximately 7km West of Gladstone, to be developed by Renew Estate Pty Ltd, a company co-founded and funded by Wirsol Energy Pty Ltd.

The project has faced resistance, with some locals concerned they would lose rural views of  Yarwun’s valley. To its credit, Renew Estate appears to have taken those concerns on board, and quite seriously.

On Friday, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said after discussions with residents, Renew Estate were looking to instead build the solar farm in Gladstone State Development Area. According to an updated report from The Observer, Renew Estate has confirmed the area is being considered as an alternative site.

“We’re more than willing to help them go out and find an alternate location,” said Mr. Butcher. “They’ve really gone out and listened to the people.”

Effective consultation and transparency are incredibly important for gaining community support for major solar power projects. Another project proposed elsewhere in Queensland we’ve previously mentioned (different developer), Warwick Solar Farm, appears to be continuing to upset some in the local community; due in part to communication issues.

Back to the Gladstone project – declared in 1993 and comprising 27,194 hectares of land adjacent to the Port of Gladstone, the State Development Area was set aside for high, medium and low industrial development and materials transportation infrastructure.

Renew Estate also has another solar farm in the pipeline for the region – a much larger facility.

The proposed Rodds Bay Solar Farm will be 300MWp (DC) capacity and built near Bororen, which is approximately 50km south of Gladstone. It’s expected to generate more than  610 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power approximately 88,000 Australian homes says the company.

Acciona To Build Huge Solar Farm Near Aldoga

Other recent large-scale solar news relating to the Gladstone region was an announcement on Friday that Acciona Energy had signed a 30 year lease with the Queensland Government for a site that will host a massive solar farm.

To be built out to a  maximum 265 megawatts (AC)1, the clean power station will be constructed near Aldoga (which is around 22 kilometres from Gladstone) and will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 122,000 households2.

This invaluable project will support up to 240 construction jobs and 10 ongoing jobs, and better yet, the company will adopt Buy Queensland and Gladstone Buy Local procurement policies, giving preference to local sub-contractors and manufacturers,” said Queensland’s Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick

Aside from the clean electricity and jobs the project will generate, plus the lease payments Acciona will make to the Government,  a community benefits fund will be established that will contribute between $50,000 to $120,000 per year to local clubs, associations and community groups.

Construction of the solar farm could begin as early as the second half of next year, and if so, electricity generation could start in the second half of 2020.

Footnotes

  1. Large scale solar project capacity is expressed as either DC (as in the case of Rodds Bay) or AC (Aldoga project). A project’s DC rating is always higher than its AC rating.
  2. Even given the DC vs AC ratings of the Rodds Bay and Aldoga solar farms, there seems to be a mismatch in terms of equivalent households powered.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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