Plibersek approves 800 MW solar farm and big battery in Queensland

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Federal Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek has announced approval for the Punchs Creek renewable energy project, an 800 MW solar farm and 250 MW / 250 MWh battery energy storage system being developed by Skylab Australia.

Plibersek said in a statement that the Punchs Creek solar and battery storage project has been “ticked off” by the federal government following assessment under Australia’s national environment law.

Brisbane-based Skylab, which also acts as distributor of solar tracking systems, said the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) approval is a “critical milestone” for the proposed Punch’s Creek Project being developed near Millmerran, about 60 kilometres southwest of Toowoomba in the heart of the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone.

The project, which has been in development since 2019, is to include more than 1.7 million PV panels spread across a 1,345-hectare site.

Skylab has previously indicated the project will be built in two stages. The first phase of construction will deliver 400 MW of solar along with the battery and associated infrastructure including a substation. Stage 2 would add a further 400 MW of solar.

The Punch’s Creek Renewable Energy Project will connect to the National Electricity Market (NEM) via Powerlink’s existing 330 kV electricity transmission line that transects the project site.

Plibersek said the project is another big step in the government’s plan to make Australia a renewable energy superpower.

“We want to unlock Australia’s potential to be a world leader in renewable energy,” she said, adding that she has ticked off 47 renewable energy projects since assuming the portfolio.

“And we have a record 134 renewables projects in the approval pipeline,” she said.

Plibersek said the Punchs Creek project will support up to 340 direct jobs in construction and up to 10 ongoing operational jobs.

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