Neoen and CleanCo Queensland have signed a 352 MWp power purchase agreement (PPA) – one of Australia’s most substantial renewable energy agreements to date.
The contract will enable Neoen to build Australia’s largest solar farm, the 460 to 480 MWp Western Downs Green Power Hub near Chinchilla in south-east Queensland, delivering clean energy into Powerlink Queensland’s transmission network.
This marks CleanCo Queensland’s second renewable energy offtake agreement since its establishment in December 2018, and it will contribute over 30 per cent of the energy required for CleanCo Queensland to meet its target of 1 GW of new renewable generation by 2025.
Neoen Australia’s Managing Director, Louis de Sambucy, said the electricity produced by Western Downs solar farm will complement CleanCo’s hydro energy production and will be the company’s first project in Queensland.
“We are fully committed to delivering this landmark deal by making the most of the region’s excellent solar resources, the use of the latest technology and our experience in delivering solar farms on time and on budget.”
“We look forward to Western Downs becoming a lighthouse project in achieving excellent regional economic and local community outcomes that will be needed in the aftermath of COVID-19’s impact on the economy.”
Western Downs Green Power Hub will be a major contributor to achieving Queensland’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. Once built, the project will generate energy to power approximately 235,000 Queensland homes. As a result, Queensland will have 2000 MW of large-scale renewable generation connected to the transmission network.
Connection will be via the Western Downs substation via a new overhead line, with energy generation expected to begin in 2022.
The A$570 million investment by Neoen (who will be the long-term owner and operator of the project) is expected to generate up to 400 jobs for the local area and South West Queensland region when construction commences in July 2020.
The establishment of a Community Benefit Fund will provide opportunities for local community-building initiatives totalling A$100,000 every year for the lifetime of the project.
The company will also be working closely with the Traditional Owners, the Barunggam, to go beyond current best practice for Indigenous participation, targeting 10 per cent of the project’s economic benefits, including employment, training and supply chain outcomes.