July start for nation’s biggest solar farm

Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Australia’s biggest solar farm is nearly shovel ready, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has declared.

Ms Palaszczuk made the announcement at the Smart Energy Council summit on Wednesday, where the focus is on using renewable energy projects to revitalise the economy after coronavirus.

Ms Palaszczuk says work will begin on the Darling Downs solar farm in July, which will create 400 jobs and 400MW of renewable energy.

“As we further develop our economic recovery plan, I’ll be having more to say about how we support our infrastructure to unlock renewable energy zones in Queensland,” she said.

“Our economy is very resilient because it’s diverse and it’s decentralised. I see a future where renewables and new technologies support even more jobs in more industries across our regions.”

Publicly-owned generator CleanCo will buy 320MW of the output from farm owner Neoen.

The project will power about 235,000 Queensland homes.

Energy ministers from the ACT, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria are also taking part in the online event.

Victoria’s Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will use her speech to say renewable energy projects will play a vital role helping coronavirus recovery efforts.

“We strongly believe that the transition to clean energy offers enormous opportunities to create jobs and drive economic growth, and we are taking action to identify and exploit those opportunities,” she will say.

The summit will feature Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox, who will renew calls for a bipartisan energy policy and a reset in how the nation deals with climate change to reach net zero emissions.

Smart Energy Council chief John Grimes says the coronavirus economic crisis and climate change must be dealt with at the same time.

“This is Australia’s moment to modernise and grow the economy, create hundreds of thousands of new, future-proof jobs and position Australia as a global renewable energy superpower,” he said.

The federal government is finalising its technology roadmap, which outlines economic goals for various energy sources to help the nation reach net zero emissions.

The government’s main focus has been on hydrogen, which Energy Minister Angus Taylor wants to cost less than $2 per kilogram.

Mr Taylor on Wednesday relaunched the Energy Made Easy price comparison website.

Consumers will be able to search for plans using their energy meter data or by uploading a bill.

“If you haven’t reviewed your energy plan recently, chances are you’re paying too much,” Mr Taylor said.

Estimated plan costs can now include retailer solar feed-in credits while the website has also been translated into 33 languages.

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