BIG READ: How Western Downs became Australia’s powerhouse
THE Western Downs is fast becoming the powerhouse of Australia and is leading the charge for the state government’s 50 per cent renewable goal by 2030.
The power the Western Downs generates from its combined projects cannot be understated, just this week
The region has just secured two renewable projects - among the largest in Australia - a 500MW 110 turbine wind farm in Wambo, and a 46MW solar farm near Chinchilla.
The 23 renewable projects that have been approved in the region over the past four years, only scratches the surface of the region’s energy capacity with its immense network of gas lines, coal power station, and soon to be hydrogen project.
Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said council made a conscious shift towards planning and creating renewable energy opportunities within the region after the 2016 election.
“It has certainly been a deliberate intention of council to peruse the renewable energy sector, and the energy sector overall to diversify the economic capacity of the region,” mayor McVeigh said.
“Just after those elections… we were approached to approve a 20MW solar farm, and we looked at that and our connectivity, the interstate connectivity.
“We had mapped all the opportunities across the Western Downs that had the potential to connect with a solar or wind farms.”
With the Queensland Governments goal of being 50 per cent run by renewables in 2030, Mayor McVeigh said the Western Downs was leading the way to help the state reach that target.
“If you look at it from a renewables point of view we are actually contributing as a regional council to that states goal of having 50 per cent renewables,” he said.
“It’s diversifying the power generation of our region, we have coal fire power station, gas fire power stations, and now we have wind and solar farms.”
Mayor McVeigh said the region is still in the infancy stage when it comes to green energy, although the diversification of the region’s energy capacity cements the Western Downs as Australia’s energy capital.
“It’s an exciting time for the Western Downs as a whole because council and the community are diversifying the economic capacity of our region,” he said.
“The first thing is that it will bring is jobs, and that’s the most important thing, as a rural and regional community, it’s important to make sure we can create jobs to help community growth.
“The number of construction jobs is quite large, and the ongoing permanence of jobs is what we are chasing.
“With the number of solar and wind farms under construction, and the expansion of our intensive agriculture industry - we are very excited for the future of the Western Downs.”
Solar farms in operation:
Darling Downs Solar Stage 1 & 2, Kogan/Beelbee – APA
Baking Board Solar Farm, Baking Board – Eco Energy World (UK)
Warhook Solar Farm, Miles – Engie (France)
Gangarri Solar Farm, Woleebee – Shell QGC
Columboola Solar Farm – Luminous Energy (UK)
Approved and awaiting commencement:
Cubico Sustainable Investments and Renewable Energy Partners Wind Farm in Wambo
Elecseed Pty Ltd, Solar Farm south of Dalby, at Kumbarilla
Wandoan South Solar Project – Vena Energy Australia (Singapore)
Dalby Solar Farm – Renewable Energy Systems [RES] (UK)
Western Downs Solar Farm, Hopeland – Yellow Solar/Tilt Renewables
Ewerleigh Solar Park, Crossroads – Ewerleigh Solar Park Pty Ltd/DPI Group (Singapore)
Edenvale Solar Park, Crossroads – Edenvale Solar Park Pty Ltd/ DPI Group (Singapore)
Blue Grass Solar Farm, Cameby – X-Elio (Spain)
Jimbour East Solar Farm, Jimbour – X-Elio (Spain)
Chinchilla Solar Farm – First Solar (USA)
Barrunggam Solar Farm, Baking Board – Ubergy
Dulacca Renewable Energy Project – RES (UK)
Chances Plain Solar Farm – Juwi Renewable Energy Pty Ltd (Germany)
Western Downs Green Power Hub, Chinchilla – Neoen (France)
Daystar Energy Solar Farm – Daystar Energy (USA)