The Queensland government has given development approval for a massive wind project of up to 1,200MW that will be located in state pine forest in the Wide Bay-Burnett region.
The $2 billion project put forward by Forest Wind will comprise up to 226 turbines and would be located in state forest used as pine plantations between the towns of Gympie and Maryborough, in a similar way to that proposed by French renewable energy developer Neoen, which is looking at a 900MW wind project and battery hub in western Victoria.
Construction could start as soon as the end of this year, pending the results of talks on off take contracts and financial close. Forest Wind is a joint venture between global energy giant and turbine manufacturer Siemens and Queensland renewable energy company Clean Sight.
“This is a major clean energy project for Queensland and will contribute to our target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030,” state minister for planning Cameron Dick said in a statement on Saturday.
“If it proceeds, this project could create around 440 jobs during construction and a further 50 full time jobs during operation.“
Forest Wind Holdings Chairman James Pennay said the project’s location has been carefully selected to take advantage of the plantation’s large working environment.
“We have established a three-kilometre separation distance from residents to wind turbines to ensure industry, the local community and the environment can coexist harmoniously,” Pennay said in a statement.
“We have been undertaking consultation with the local community and stakeholders and we are looking forward to continuing that engagement through the next phase of the project’s development, including with the Butchulla and Kabi Kabi first nation peoples.”
State energy minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Queensland currently has 5,500 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity after more than $5 billion has been invested in almost 2500MW of new renewable generation, creating almost 5000 jobs.
“More generation helps put downward pressure on power prices, and give Queenslanders have the lowest electricity prices on the eastern seaboard,” he said.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid and founder/editor of The Driven. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.