One of the largest grid-connected wind farms in the southern hemisphere is a step closer for the Wide Bay-Burnett region, with the Queensland Government granting development approval for Forest Wind.
The project is proposed to comprise of up to 226 turbines with the potential to generate up to 1200 megawatts of electricity at capacity, which is enough to supply one in four Queensland homes.
This is enough power for all homes across the Wide Bay-Burnett, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast combined.
“The wind farm is proposed to be developed within state forest land between Gympie and Maryborough, a unique location and a great example of coexistence between established southern pine timber plantations that support our forestry industry and new large-scale renewable energy,” said Minister for Planning Cameron Dick.
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the project would join Queensland’s existing 5500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity.
“Since December 2016, almost $5 billion has been invested in almost 2500 MW of new renewable generation in Queensland, creating almost 5000 jobs,” Mr Lynham said.
“More generation helps put downward pressure on power prices, and give Queenslanders have the lowest electricity prices on the eastern seaboard.”
Forest Wind Holdings Chairman James Pennay said the project’s location has been carefully selected to take advantage of the plantation’s large working environment.
“We have established a three-kilometre separation distance from residents to wind turbines to ensure industry, the local community and the environment can coexist harmoniously,” Mr Pennay said.
“We have been undertaking consultation with the local community and stakeholders and we are looking forward to continuing that engagement through the next phase of the project’s development, including with the Butchulla and Kabi Kabi first nation peoples.”
The wind farm, which is valued at around $2 billion, could increase Queensland’s installed power generation capacity by approximately nine per cent.
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Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders said the Forest Wind development approval is a significant milestone for the project and great news for jobs in the region.
“Forest Wind will be able to harness the Wide Bay-Burnett region’s great local wind resource, which flows in directly from the Pacific Ocean,” he said.
“Subject to final consideration and the company finalising all contractual agreements, construction could commence as early as the fourth quarter of 2020.”
Mr Dick said the project is being advanced as an Exclusive Transaction by the Queensland Government’s Investment Facilitation and Partnerships Group within the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning.
“This group aims to provide a clear entry point for major investment projects and a customised and streamlined pathway to decision-makers across government,” he said.