Neoen notes major milestone as 460 MWp solar farm connects to grid


Queensland’s largest solar farm, which forms part of Neoen’s $600 million Western Downs Green Power Hub that will also include a 200 MW/400 MWh big battery, has reached a significant milestone with connection to Powerlink’s transmission network finalised.

Neoen Australia managing director Louis de Sambucy said the completion of connection works marked an “important project milestone” with construction of the solar farm to be wrapped up in the coming months. The solar farm is expected to commence operations in 2022.

“The team remains mobilised towards finalising construction over coming months and we’re looking forward to delivering affordable renewable energy to CleanCo and Queensland,” he said.

The massive 460 MWp solar farm, being developed on a 1500-hectare site about 20 kilometres southeast of Chinchilla in Queensland’s Western Downs region, will generate 400 MW of solar energy, producing more than 1,080 GWh of renewable energy per year.

Powerlink chief executive Paul Simshauser said grid connection works involved building six kilometres of new transmission line and associated infrastructure at the network operator’s existing Western Downs Substation which links to the nearby Queensland/New South Wales interconnector.

“This newly-built transmission line feeds into Neoen’s Hopeland Substation, which has also now been energised to help transport the renewable energy generated at the solar farm to the National Electricity Market (NEM),” he said.

“We look forward to working with Neoen to undertake final testing and commissioning in coming months as solar farm development continues to progress.”

Neoen’s Hopeland Substation has also been energised.

Image: C5

The massive Western Downs Green Power Hub has the backing of state government-owned renewable energy generator CleanCo which has committed to purchasing 320 MW of the solar power produced, which will help the state make progress on its target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

CleanCo Queensland chair Jacqui Walters said the Hub would add significant renewable energy capacity for Queensland, generating enough energy to power 235,000 homes while avoiding 864,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

“The 320 MW of solar energy we’ve secured from this project joins CleanCo’s unique portfolio of wind, hydro and gas generation and enables us to offer reliable, low-emissions energy at a competitive price for our customers,” she said.

“We have a mandate to bring 1,400 MW of new renewable energy online by 2025 and through projects like the Western Downs Green Power Hub we will do this while supporting growth and jobs in regional Queensland.”

Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said the solar farm, which had sparked more than 450 construction jobs, is “further proof of Queensland’s credentials as a renewables and hydrogen superpower”.

“An economic assessment by Aurecon estimates the project will generate more than $850 million in overall economic activity for Queensland,” he said.

“The ongoing economic benefit is estimated at around $32 million per year for the Queensland economy, 90% of which is expected to directly benefit the Western Downs region.”

The project is part of Neoen’s ambitions plans to have more than 10 GW of capacity in operation or under construction by 2025.

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