600 MW solar farm in Central Queensland finally secures approval


After being in the works for many years, the 600 MW Smoky Creek solar farm has been approved by Tanya Plibersek, the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water.

Located in Central Queensland roughly 75 kilometres south of Rockhampton and 40 kilometres north of Biloela, the solar farm is set to be installed on approximately 1,800 hectares previously cleared for cattle grazing.

In the Smoky Creek report that opened for public consultation earlier this year, the proposal said the project’s infrastructure would include battery storage – however no mention of batteries are made in the federal government’s approval announcement nor on Edify’s Smoky Creek website.

The project seems to have been in development for at least six years, with Solar Quotes pointing to a report on the project for the Department of the Environment and Energy dated June 2017.

It had received final planning approval a number of years back and had support of the local Banana Shire Council, but was waiting to for the final tick under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation or EPBC Act.

That has now been given, with Smoky Creek expected to generate roughly 1.2 GWh per annum of renewable energy – enough to power more than 200,000 households.

According to Plibersek, Edify is planning for “at least” half of jobs and procurement associated with the project to be filled locally.

Smoky Creek will feed into the Powerlink Queensland Calvale to Stanwell 275 kV transmission lines, Edify says.

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