LATEST: THE SUNSHINE Coast Solar Farm project may have gone ahead even if there was no profitability attached to the project.

That was the view of council's corporate strategy and delivery director Greg Laverty, who echoed Mayor Mark Jamieson's thoughts on the importance of the project.


"We may well have done this even if we didn't make any money," Mr Laverty said.

The $48.5 million project was launched Wednesday morning on Yandina-Coolum Rd, Valdora.

Almost 58,000 photovoltaic solar panels will be installed generating at its peak, enough electricity to power 5000 homes.

Increasing in capacity from 10-megawatts to 15-megawatts, Cr Jamieson explained while that carried a heftier initial outlay, from $30 million to $49 million, it was expected the council's savings over the 30-year project lifespan would increase from a predicted $9 million to $22 million on top of construction and maintenance costs being recouped by the facility.

"Council will effectively be offsetting all of its energy use," Cr Jamieson said.

"Ultimately all of the energy will go into the grid and clearly we'll be looking to sell in at the best price and buy out at the best price.

"That provides an offset that covers all of the energy used by council right across the Sunshine Coast in terms of all of our buildings, facilities, aquatic centres, parks and garden, community centres, sporting fields."

The ability to sell in and buy out, through a power purchase agreement with retailers Diamond Energy, is hoped to deliver a revenue stream for the council via surplus energy being taken to the market.

The system is a pool price pass through arrangement, which in effect will allow the council to work off the wholesale rate and follow market fluctuations, rather than pay a flat rate for its power.

The first solar farm in Australia to move to 1500 volt DC, Energex CEO Terry Effeney said the grid-scale energy produced would benefit all ratepayers and said the large-scale operation was vital to future energy sourcing.

Do you support the Valdora solar farm?

This poll ended on 04 May 2016.

Current Results

Yes. It's what many of us are doing on our roofs in a larger scale.


No. I think the council should stick with cheaper energy options.


I'm undecided.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Much conjecture surrounded the choice of site and price paid for the land, back in 2014 as well as the nature of the land, sitting amidst a flood plain.

One factor that made the site more favourable was the close proximity to the 33kV overhead line to the current site.

Downer Utilities will undertake construction and have been awarded at least the first two years of maintenance and operations of the solar farm.

Part of the works done will include raising the major components to a level of 4.2m, above the one-in-100-year flood levels calculated for the year 2050 to accommodate climate change, Mr Laverty explained.

Downer Utilities executive director Trevor Cohen said he was excited by the company's first foray into the solar energy sector, having done previous work in the wind energy field.

Cr Jamieson admitted he'd been disappointed at the lack of federal support for the project, having failed twice to secure National Stronger Regions Fund grants and being knocked by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

"In its most recent commentary ARENA has basically said 'well you've got a profitable project anyway so why would you need our help?'," he said.

The project is expected to take 12 months to construct and should be operational by early-2017.


THE FIRST sods have been turned on the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm project with the weather gods failing to come to the party.


Gloom and scattered showers greeted those gathered, as Downer was announced as winners of the contract to build, operate and maintain the facility for at least the first two years.

The $48.5 million development on 24 hectares at Yandina-Coolum Rd, Valdora, is set for completion by early next year, with the Sunshine Coast Council claiming the project will not only cover construction costs but offset 100% of council's ongoing electricity requirements for its administrative offices and community facilities.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the project was also expected to deliver $22 million in savings over the 30-year lifespan of the project.

The solar farm development had failed to garner Federal Government support on a number of occasions and questions had been asked over initial outlay to purchase the site, a 49-hectare parcel of flood-prone land.

Cr Jamieson acknowledged there had been challenged with the project, as expected, but added he was disappointed the federal support had not been forthcoming for such a project.

The 15-megawatt solar farm will be able to power 5000 homes at its peak, powered by 57,850 photovoltaic solar panels, and Cr Jamieson said it would be the largest solar farm in Queensland and the fifth-largest in the nation.


  • Due for completion in first half of 2017
  • 36,000 trees to be planted to create a 10m buffer zone on site frontage and southern boundary
  • 60 jobs to be created during construction phase, plus hundreds more in clean tech sector
  • Extra energy will be exported back into grid to create potential new revenue stream for Council


  • 1: Downer Utilities Australia contracted to build the site. Energex will build infrastructure to connect solar farm to the grid. Electricity retailer Diamond Energy will manage the power for the council.
  • 2: Costs- construction and design ($37.5m), site-related costs ($4.3m), Energex connection ($2.5m), approvals and consultancies ($1.8m), Research and Development/Visitor Centre ($1m) and buffering works ($0.5m). Project set to cover construction and maintenance/operation costs, as well as generate savings of $22m over 30-year lifespan according to the council.
  • 3: Build phase expected to take about 12 months. Council does not expect there to be major traffic disruptions on Yandina-Coolum Rd during that period.
  • 4: Council says all key components of the project will be raised above the one-in-one hundred year flood level (for the year 2050), with most components to be at 4.2m.
  • 5: Project failed on two attempts for Federal funding through the National Stronger Regions Fund and was also rejected by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency as the council was not incorporated under the Corporations Act, earning the ire of Mayor Mark Jamieson last year.


CONSTRUCTION is set to start on a 15 megawatt solar farm spanning 24 hectares of a 49 hectare site at Valdora on the Sunshine Coast.

The council says the $48.5m solar farm will offset the council's electricity consumption.

The solar farm will be the fifth largest in Australia and will consist of 57,850 panels - creating enough electricity to power 5000 homes.

Completion of the solar farm is expected in the first half of 2017.

Humble Gladstone Vinnies volunteer for 20+ years awarded OAM

Premium Content Humble Gladstone Vinnies volunteer for 20+ years awarded OAM

“If somebody comes in and asks for help, it’s not for me to judge whether they need...

Renewable energy rise to see CQ family bills slashed

Premium Content Renewable energy rise to see CQ family bills slashed

Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) confirmed regional Queensland households...

Salvation Army Gladstone deliver water out west

Premium Content Salvation Army Gladstone deliver water out west

“There’s not much we can do, except wait for it to rain.”