Queensland’s grows its PV fleet as another solar farm gets connection go-ahead

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Luminous Energy, the UK-based international solar and energy storage developer, has announced the start of connection works for its 162 MWac (202 MWdc) solar farm in Queensland. The company has completed a contract to connect the project to the state’s network via Powerlink’s nearby Columboola substation.

Commenting on the project milestone, Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the solar farm would provide up to 400 construction jobs and the substation and transmission line works would support another 17 jobs, as well as five permanent jobs when it comes online in early 2021.

“Our state’s renewable revolution is full steam ahead with almost 2400 megawatts of renewable energy capacity now operating, and another 250 MW underway or committed,” Lynham said. “We already have 30 solar farms, and more than 560,000 Queensland rooves sporting solar systems, with combined generation capacity of more than 4000 megawatts.”

The connection project involved works at Powerlink’s existing Columboola substation and construction of almost two kilometres of transmission line. “We have been partnering with the Luminous Energy project team over an extensive period of time to optimise their connection,” Powerlink Interim Chief Executive Kev Kehl said. “Powerlink has delivered 13 connections for large-scale renewable projects across Queensland, representing more than 1,600MW of potential generation.”

For the UK developer, the project represents a significant new phase of its international expansion with plans to deliver gigawatts in the coming years. Luminous Energy has now initiated 1.2GW of new solar and storage projects across the UK, US, Australia and Chile, with a combined market value of more than £900 million. Columboola Solar Farm, Luminous Energy’s first project in Australia, is the company’s largest project to date.

“We are proud to bring this significant supply of clean energy to a major demand centre of the grid. The project will significantly contribute to the Queensland Government’s goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030,” Luminous Energy CEO Jolyon Orchard said. “The sophisticated electrical design of the plant will enable a robust flow of low carbon electricity to Queensland’s grid.”

PwC is securing investment for the Columboola project for Luminous Energy and has shortlisted several bidders. The process has been running for several months, with the sale anticipated in the coming weeks. Construction is expected to commence early next year and due to start by April 2020.