France-based renewable energy developer Neoen signed a 352 MWp power purchase agreement related to a solar farm with CleanCo of Queensland, Australia. The Neoen press release details a venture with CleanCo: between 460 and 480 MWp in size, Western Downs will become the largest solar farm in Australia, bringing significant regional economic benefits to South West Queensland. The project, the Western Downs Green Power Hub, will generate 1080 GWh of affordable clean energy each year, complementing CleanCo Queensland’s hydro generation.
With this move into Queensland, Neoen confirms its status as Australia’s leading independent producer of renewable energy.
This is CleanCo Queensland’s second renewable energy purchase agreement. The company must reach 1 GW of new renewable generation capacity by 2025, and this gets it more than a third of the way there. The agreement also improves the state’s progress on its target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.
PV Magazine Australia weighs in, reporting, “This is one of the first offtake deals for the corporation since its establishment in 2018, when the Palaszczuk Government moved to restructure its two publicly-owned electricity generation companies into three, creating a strategic portfolio of low and zero-emissions power generation assets designed to reduce power prices, known as CleanCo.”
400 Jobs for South West Queensland
“The best thing we can do to support Queensland jobs is to support investment in our state,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. “Today we’re announcing support through CleanCo to unlock hundreds of jobs on the Darling Downs.”
The $570 million investment by Neoen is expected to create up to 400 jobs for the South West Queensland area when construction begins in July. Electricity generation is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022.
“As our economy emerges from the worst impacts of Covid-19, we need projects ready to go that will create jobs and stimulate spending, especially in regional Queensland,” Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said. “This is CleanCo’s third investment on behalf of its owners, the people of Queensland, and means Queenslanders now have 820 MW of new renewable energy in the pipeline.”
The solar installations bring jobs, as well as cleaner air. Many in the US, Australia, and elsewhere have been calling for a renewable-led economic recovery from coronavirus. Here’s one great example of decision-makers getting the ball rolling.
A report published by the Clean Energy Council found that bringing forward the gigawatts of renewable energy projects currently in the development pipeline will: create over 50,000 new direct jobs. As well, this project potentially enables more indirect jobs during construction.
PV Magazine Australia notes that tripling the amount of large-scale renewable energy installed in Australia with the addition of more than 30 GW of new capacity will inject $50 billion of investment into the Australian economy.
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