Western Downs welcomes more solar


Spanish PV developer Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) has received council approval to develop a 30MW PV power plant in the Western Downs region of Queensland.

The solar powerhouse, which has the capacity to power around 22,000 home, will be built to the east of Dalby and is expected to take up to 12 months to construct.

Electricity demand is rising in northeastern Australia, and the Western Downs is particularly well placed to house solar developments due to the amount of suitable land available.

Western Downs Regional Council Spokesperson for Planning and Environment Councillor Andrew Smith said solar development is moving full-steam ahead, which is evident by the number of renewable energy projects being proposed across the region.

“Council was thinking globally and acting locally when handing down the decision to approve this major solar farm development,” he said.

“We are committed to providing a stable and regulatory environment to encourage private sector investment and support opportunities for the industry in suitable locations.

“The third wave of energy development is here and this project is a big investment into the Western Downs’ largely untapped potential for this alternate energy resource.”

Dalby, in Queensland’s inland southeast, is also the site of Origin Energy’s proposed 106.8MW Darling Downs Solar Farm. The project has been invited by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to submit a full application under its Large Scale Solar (LSS) Competitive Round.

After the initial call for submissions, 22 “high merit” projects were invited by ARENA to submit project proposals for LSS grant funding. pv magazine reports 20 project applications have been submitted. ARENA expects to announce the successful projects in September. Applicants have begun to step forward to promote their development, including Chinese wind developer Goldwind – which plans to develop a 20MW project on the border of Queensland and New South Wales.

While falling electricity demand has been a feature of Australia’s grids in recent years, Queensland is seeing an uptick in demand. This is largely due to a number of large natural gas liquefaction projects coming online, which draw large amounts of electricity from the grid. Queensland utility Ergon has tendered for 150MW of large scale PV to meet part of this demand.