The historic sheep and cattle grazing Queensland town of Barcaldine will be home to a new big solar farm, creating jobs in the region and boosting large scale solar in Australia.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $22.8 million support towards the construction of Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm, a 20 MW AC (25 MW DC) single axis tracking solar plant.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project would benefit the region and demonstrate how renewables can provide network benefits in locations at the edges of the national electricity network.
“Fringe-of-grid locations in regional Australia face a number of challenges with reliability and outages caused by network constraints and a lack of infrastructure,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“There is a clear value proposition for large-scale solar in the Barcaldine area, which has an excellent solar resource and experiences voltage and frequency control issues as well as load management challenges.
“A new solar farm will help alleviate peak demand pressures and provide voltage control, resulting in more reliable power supply to customers in the region.
“The potential for added battery storage to create additional network benefits will also be explored. This could allow the solar plant to work in tandem with the existing gas plant during a line outage, operating as an ‘island’ network independent to the main grid.
“This project will serve as a test case showing how the network benefits from distributed renewable energy can improve network efficiency, and potentially enable solar plants to access an extra revenue stream through network support payments.
“Up to 175 jobs are expected to be created during construction, with the early works being carried out by employees from the local community.
“The plant will adopt the tracking technology currently being installed at the ARENA-supported Moree Solar Farm, providing a further benchmark and additional information on its installation and operation, to be shared with the energy industry.”
The $69 million project is due for completion in April 2017. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has committed $20 million in debt finance towards the project.
About Barcaldine Regional Community Solar Farm Pty Ltd
Barcaldine Regional Community Solar Farm is 100 per cent owned by Elecnor. Elecnor is one of Spain’s leading companies in engineering, development and construction of projects relating to infrastructures, renewable energies and new technologies. Elecnor is listed on the Spanish stock exchange with a turnover of around $3 billion. With more than 58 years of experience, Elecnor has a global presence in more than 40 countries and employs over 12,500 professionals. Elecnor Australia is currently constructing 70MW Moree Solar Farm (NSW) and is an active player of the solar industry in the country.
About the Clean Energy Finance Corporation
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) invests using a commercial approach to overcome market barriers and mobilise investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies. Since its inception, the CEFC has committed over $1.4 billion in finance to investments in clean energy projects valued at over $3.5 billion. The CEFC invests for a positive financial return, with more than 55 direct investments. These projects help to improve energy productivity for businesses across Australia, develop local industries and generate new employment opportunities.
The CEFC operates under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012.
Joint media release from The Hon. Greg Hunt MP and Bruce Scott MP, 9 December 2015: Rural Queensland solar farm to power 5,300 households and create up to 175 jobs
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Media release – Big solar to generate power and jobs for Queensland town (PDF 471KB)