Australia, Projects, Renewables, Solar, Storage

Greener horizons for the sunshine state

solar farm, renewable energy, clean energy

The future of Queensland’s energy sector is brimming with endless clean, green potential. ecogeneration takes a look at the current renewable projects in the state.

Renewable energy isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also a booming economic force, creating jobs, attracting investments, and stimulating regional development. ecogeneration explores the major renewable energy projects in Queensland.

MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct

The MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct, built by Acciona, is situated in the South-West of Warwick, Queensland, Australia, on land primarily utilised for sheep farming. The location was chosen for its consistent wind exposure, making it a suitable resource for the development of the wind farm.

With a planned capacity of 1026MW, the wind farm will feature 180 Nordex Delta wind turbines. This makes the project the largest onshore wind farms globally.

On January 2024, project developer Acciona Energia and contractor Holcim announced they completed the pouring of MacIntyre Wind Farm’s concrete foundations for its 162 wind turbines, marking a significant milestone in the 923MW project.

The construction of MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct began in 2022, with the wind farm expected to become fully operational by 2024.

The total investment in the MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct is $1.96 billion. Beyond economic contributions, the wind farm aligns with Queensland’s decarbonisation strategy and climate change mitigation efforts.

According to the Queensland Government, the project is anticipated to result in a Community Enhancement Program, strategically delivering added value to the local region over the project’s life cycle. It is also expected to provide significant economic activity across the Goondiwindi, Southern Downs, and Toowoomba Regional Council areas. Local spending during construction is projected to exceed $500 million.

Steven Miles, Queensland’s Premier said once operational the MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to supply about 700,000 Queensland homes.

“The MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct is set to provide up to 400 local jobs during construction, with an additional 240 jobs for the construction of the 64km transmission line, and 14 fulltime jobs once in operation,” Miles said.

“Acciona also expects its local spend during construction to exceed $500 million, which is great news for the Southern Downs, Goondiwindi, and Toowoomba communities.”

solar farm, renewable energy, clean energy, wind farm, wind turbine
Engineers examining wind turbines. Image: Martin Barraud/Caia Image/

Western Downs Green Power Hub

Situated near Chinchilla in the Western Downs region of Queensland, the Western Downs Green Power Hub is located 22km southeast of Chinchilla. The site spans 1500 hectares in Barunggam country, 300km northeast of Brisbane.

The Western Downs Green Power Hub is a 460 MW solar farm project developed by Neoen, a French renewable energy producer.

When complete, it will add 400MW of renewable energy into the grid with Queensland Government owned energy generator and retailer CleanCo signed up to take 320MW.

The project, utilising 72-cell bi-facial solar modules, incorporates advanced tracking systems to efficiently follow the sun. It also includes a battery with an energy storage capacity of up to 200MW.

Western Downs Green Power Hub’s solar farm is projected to become operational in 2023, with the battery component scheduled to commence operations in 2024.

With an estimated investment of $600 million, the Western Downs Green Power Hub is anticipated to deliver an annual economic benefit of around $32 million to the Queensland economy.

Additionally, the solar farm is expected to offset approximately 864,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The project’s electricity generation, exceeding 1080GWh per year, will power around 235,000 homes.

Last Christmas, CleanCo announced its collaboration with Coles to provide 95 per cent of the latter’s electricity needs in Queensland.

According to Tom Metcalfe, CEO of CleanCo, the renewable energy generated by the Western Downs Green Power Hub will supply some of CleanCo’s biggest customers including Coles and BHP.

“Projects like these complement CleanCo’s portfolio of fast ramping, flexible gas and hydro generators to provide our customers with 24/7 reliable clean energy,” Metcalfe said.

“We are proud to support renewable energy projects like the Western Downs Green Power Hub that deliver great local employment opportunities and economic outcomes in regional Queensland.”

“The renewable solar energy generated here in Queensland’s Western Downs will contribute to the long-term sustainability of Queensland industries and communities, helping them to thrive in a net zero future.”

CQ-H2 Hydrogen Project

The Central Queensland Hydrogen Project (CQ-H2) is located near Gladstone, which has been identified as the hub for strategic development. The region possesses attributes conducive to global participation in green hydrogen production, including a deep-water port, expansive space for expansion, and robust electricity and gas transmission infrastructure.

Led by Stanwell Corporation, the project aims to produce 200 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per day by 2028, scaling up to an impressive 800 tonnes per day by the early 2030. The venture incorporates advanced technologies to facilitate the large-scale production of green hydrogen.

The CQ-H2 project anticipates substantial economic and environmental advantages. At its peak, it is poised to generate over 8900 new jobs, contributing $17.2 billion in hydrogen exports and adding $12.4 billion to Queensland’s Gross State Product over a 30-year lifespan. The project aligns with Queensland’s commitment to becoming a renewable energy superpower.

In December 2023, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced that CQ-H2 and five other applicants had been shortlisted for a $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart Program. This represented a total electrolyser capacity of over 3.5GW, making CQ-H2 among the largest renewable hydrogen projects in the world.

Mick de Brenni, Queensland’s Minister for Energy and Clean Economy Jobs said CQH2 would bring new jobs in manufacturing and help the agricultural sector to decarbonise.

“Over time, eliminating fossil fuels from Queensland supply chains and replacing them with clean energy means our agricultural jobs will remain safe in a carbon emissions conscious marketplace,” de Brenni said.

Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project

Situated in the South-West of Warwick, Queensland, the Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project is set to become the largest pumped hydro scheme globally.

Proposed in two stages to reach completion by 2035, the project aims to deliver 5GW of clean, reliable power supply and storage.

The innovative pumped hydro technology acts as a giant water battery, using electricity to pump water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir during periods of low energy prices. This stored energy is released when needed, generating hydroelectricity through turbines.

The construction activities of Pioneer-Burdekin have commenced, with a planned completion timeline by 2035.

Awarding over 3000 jobs during construction, the Pioneer-Burdekin project plays a pivotal role in the $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan. It is expected to provide 24/7 clean and reliable power, generating 5000MW for 24 hours, equivalent to about half of the state’s peak usage.

According to Queensland Hydro, the investigation phase is well underway at its proposed Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project site.

“Works such as geotechnical drilling help us to avoid, minimise, and offset potential adverse impacts to local ecosystems and the environment,” Queensland Hydro said in a LinkedIn post.

Minister de Brenni said the Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project is the cornerstone of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan and will be the largest pumped hydro scheme in the world.

“This mega pumped hydro project will act like a giant battery, and when connected to our Queensland SuperGrid, will underpin the reliability of our publicly owned grid by storing the energy generated by our renewable energy zones,” de Brenni said.

“It’s regions like Mackay that are at the centre of this Queensland’s renewable energy transformation – which will unleash new industrial jobs in hydrogen, renewables, manufacturing, and critical minerals.”

Townsville Region Hydrogen Hub

The Townsville Region Hydrogen Hub is Queensland’s latest major renewable energy project, announced only in January 2024.

Located in North Queensland, it is considered a key investment by the Federal Government, with up to $70 million allocated for the development.

The initial stage of the hub aims to produce 800 tonnes of green hydrogen annually, catering to local industry and zero-emissions transport. The facility includes a 17.6 MW domestic production unit integrated with renewable energy generation and battery storage.

The hub plans to scale up to approximately 3000 tonnes for domestic use and exceed 150,000 tonnes for export.

Construction of Townsville Region Hydrogen Hub is slated to commence in the coming year, with a targeted completion in 2026. Its initial commercial operations are expected to begin in 2027.

The project is anticipated to create a minimum of 200 direct job opportunities during construction, benefitting local electricians, plumbers, fitters, and concreters. Ongoing roles in technical and engineering capacities will contribute to sustained regional employment.

The hub aligns with Australia’s renewable energy ambitions, offering green hydrogen for local use and export.

With a combined investment exceeding $137 million, including up to $70 million from the Commonwealth, the initiative signifies a collaboration between Australia and Germany, leveraging German hydrogen technology expertise and Australia’s potential as a renewable energy leader.

According to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, renewable hydrogen is a game changer, opening the door to green metals, green fertiliser, green power and supporting industrial decarbonisation.

“The whole world needs renewable hydrogen, and regional Australia is ready to provide it,” Albanese said.

“With its port, expertise in exports and access to Queensland’s abundant solar resources, Townsville is ideally placed to help power the world with Australian renewable energy and create jobs in regional Australia.” 

For more renewable and solar news, subscribe to ecogeneration

This article featured in the April edition of ecogeneration.

For more renewable and solar news, subscribe to ecogeneration

Send this to a friend