Queensland solar projects set to begin construction

sterling & wilson

Two large-scale solar projects in Queensland are on track to begin construction, after receiving a $31.5 million commitment from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The Canadian Solar projects, located at Longreach and Oakey, will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 12,000 homes.

The CEFC has committed $12 million in senior debt finance to the 15MW (17MWp) $28.7 million Longreach Solar Farm and $19.5 million in senior debt finance to the 25MW (30MWp) $47.5 million Oakey Solar Farm.

Canadian Solar has secured long-term offtake agreements with the Queensland Government for the power generated by both farms.

Canadian Solar has also secured debt finance from Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and $3.5 million in grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Canadian Solar general manager Daniel Ruoss said both projects had received strong support from their local communities, which had welcomed the addition of solar to their local energy supplies.

“We expect the Longreach Solar Farm, with its 54,600 panels across 86 hectares, to generate enough solar to power around 5000 Queensland homes,” Mr Ruoss said.

“The Oakey Solar Farm, with its 93,600 panels across 60 hectares, is expected to generate enough power for around 7000 homes.

“We’re already planning for a 55MW expansion to the Oakey project, once the first stage is constructed.”

Both projects will use single-axis tracking technology, which maximises the amount of generation achieved, by enabling the panels to capture sunlight for a longer period each day than fixed panels.

The CEFC has now committed almost $150 million in finance towards large-scale projects in Queensland, accelerating the development of over 210MW in large-scale solar capacity in the state.

“So far, the CEFC large-scale solar program has committed more than $300 million to projects in three states, delivering immediate benefits to local communities and making a substantial contribution to the achievement of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target,” CEFC Large-Scale Solar lead Gloria Chan said.

“Solar is an increasingly cost-effective energy solution in areas like Longreach and Oakey, which have high levels of solar irradiation.

“These two projects represent a significant injection into the Queensland economy, that will drive further growth, expertise and diversity in the renewable energy sector.

“Another important benefit is that the land owners will generate a long-term leasing income from hosting the solar panels.”

The two projects are expected to employ around 80 people during construction, with RCR O’Donnell Griffin Pty Ltd undertaking the engineering, procurement and construction of both projects.

Construction is expected to begin in May 2017 and reach commercial operations in the first quarter of 2018.