Neoen signals start of construction for Queensland green energy hub


Neoen announced on Friday construction of the $373 million Kaban Green Power Hub will commence after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had earlier confirmed the state will invest $40 million to upgrade transmission lines in the state’s far north as it looks to develop the Northern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

The Premier said the 320-kilometre transmission line upgrade would strengthen the network in Far North Queensland and allow renewables developer Neoen to push ahead with its Kaban wind farm and battery project to be built near Cairns.

Neoen said on Friday financial close is expected in the coming months but it has already provided notice to proceed to principal contractor and wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, signalling the start of construction of the green energy hub. Energy generation is scheduled to commence in 2023.

Neoen Australia managing director Louis de Sambucy said the announcement was an important milestone for the project which has already secured a long-term power purchase agreement with CleanCo.

“We are also grateful to those in the wider community who have advocated for the project and the benefits it will bring,” he said.

“We look forward to Kaban contributing to Queensland’s energy transition.”

The wind farm will comprise 28 turbines and is expected to generate 457 GWh of clean energy annually, enough to power about 100,000 homes. It will connect via a new substation into the existing overhead transmission line.

Powerlink will in turn upgrade the transmission line between Cairns and Townsville from 132 kV to 275 kV, a move that Palaszczuk said would not only allow Neoen to proceed but would also open the region up for more solar and wind energy projects.

“Our investment in new transmission line infrastructure today won’t just enable Neoen to forge ahead with their Kaban project – it has potential to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of new investment in renewable energy in North Queensland in the future,” she said.

The state funding for the transmission line upgrade comes just weeks after federal resources minister Keith Pitt blocked a $280 million loan facility from the government-operated Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

Pitt said he was not convinced the Kaban green energy hub would provide “dispatchable” generation into the national electricity market (NEM) or that it would lower power prices.

Vestas has been appointed principal contractor.

Image: Vestas

State minister for energy Mick de Brenni took a swipe a Pitt on Friday, saying the government had turned its back on the Kaban energy hub which he said would be the cornerstone for the Northern Queensland REZ.

“Pitt’s veto announcement just doesn’t stack up,” he said.

“The Morrison Government is hopelessly conflicted on renewable energy, even going so far as to ignore large-scale storage in the region to veto Kaban under the guises of dispatchability.”

The project is expected to create 250 jobs while the transmission line upgrade would deliver another 97 jobs.

“Renewables create jobs and put downward pressure on power prices,” Palaszczuk said.

“That’s why backing our renewables sector is an important part of our economic recovery plan.

“Along with the Kidston Pumped Hydro Storage Project, this wind farm will power the North and keep Queensland on track to meet our 50% renewables target by 2030.”

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