Western Downs solar farm. Image supplied.
Construction has now finished on what is – at least for the moment – Australia’s biggest operating solar farm, the 400MW Western Downs project owned by Neoen in Queensland.
The project was visited by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday, to mark the installation of the last of the one million solar panels that make up the facility, located near Chinchilla.
The solar farm forms part of the Western Downs Green Power Hub that will also include a 200MW/400MWh big battery.
The Western Downs solar farm has already started production, reaching a peak capacity of 350MW as it works through the various “hold points” required by the market operator. The installation of the last solar panels means that the project can soon move to full capacity.
The project is the biggest in Australia, although it will soon be joined by the 400MW New England solar farm being built in NSW by Acen Renewables. That project has a planned second stage that will take the total capacity to 720MW.
Queensland has recently upgraded its renewable energy targets to 70 per cent by 2032, and 80 per cent by 2035, although it remains – for now – the state with the heaviest dependence on coal and the lowest share of renewables with just 23 per cent share in the last 12 months.
It will, at least for a time, host the country’s biggest solar farm and also the biggest wind farm, with the 1GW MacIntyre project that is also under construction by Spanish energy giant Acciona.
“Queensland is leading the charge with renewable power so it’s no surprise that the sunshine state is now home to the largest solar farm in the country,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement.
“Our government has made it clear that Queensland homes will be powered by renewable energy from solar farms just like this one through the SuperGrid.
“I’m pleased we can deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy to every Queenslander because we own our power lines and the majority of power generation”.
The Western Downs solar farm has a long term contract to deliver 80 per cent of its output to the government owned power company CleanCo, which is in turn selling the product to customers such as BHP, Westfield and Coles.
Louis de Sambucy, the head of Neoen Australia, said the company is delighted to have completed the panel installations at Western Downs, and the “strong contribution that this asset will make to Queensland’s rapidly accelerating energy transition.”