Telstra has entered into a long-term power purchase agreement with RES Australia to underpin a $100 million solar farm in central Queensland.
The 70MW solar farm, located near Emerald, is expected to begin construction later this year and be operational by the second half of 2018.
It will deliver enough renewable generation to power up to 35,000 homes.
Energy Minister Mark Bailey said Telstra’s commitment was a vote of confidence in the Government’s priorities – jobs in regional Queensland and the creation of a new large-scale renewable energy sector.
“More than one gigawatt (or 1000MW) of privately funded renewable energy projects are currently in the works delivering more than $2 billion of new investment to Queensland and around 2000 direct jobs, mostly in our regions,” Mr Bailey said.
Minister Bailey said Telstra, like Sun Metals that has committed to a 125MW solar farm near Townsville creating another 210 jobs in construction, had committed to solar to manage its energy consumption and costs, while also contributing to reducing emissions and stimulating investment in regional Australia.
“It’s commitments like these from major companies like Telstra that show the increasing importance of renewables in Queensland’s, and indeed Australia’s, energy mix,” he said.
“We’ve helped kick-start the large-scale renewable industry in Queensland after inheriting a stagnating renewable energy sector under the previous LNP government.
“In the past 12 months alone, 16 large-scale renewable energy projects have been committed in Queensland.
“When these projects are all online, they will have more than doubled our large-scale renewable generation capacity.”
Telstra’s involvement was critical in underwriting the project as an important addition to Australia’s supply of renewable energy and extending RES’s portfolio of solar, wind and battery storage assets in the country.
“Corporate PPAs are particularly well-suited to the Australian energy market dynamics, so I would like to commend Telstra for taking the corporate initiative to lead the market. We look forward to delivering this project in partnership with them,” RES Australia CEO Marco Perona said.
Executive director of Telstra Energy Ben Burge said the agreement was an important step in enabling Telstra to more actively manage energy consumption and costs, while also contributing to reducing emissions and stimulating investment in regional Australia.