$260M SPEND: Region gets nation's largest solar farm

BREAKING: Two of the nation's largest solar energy plants will be built on the Darling Downs after the projects secured vital funding and support.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will support 12 large-scale solar plants across the country including the $216.7 million Darling Downs Solar Farm at Dalby and $47.5m Oakey Solar Farm at Oakey.

With a 107 megawatt generation capacity, the Darling Downs Solar Farm will be the largest plant in the country.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the projects would create more than 500 direct jobs, and hundreds more indirect jobs, in regional Queensland.

"I am proud that the largest solar farm in Australia will now be located on the Darling Downs, and that two of the three largest solar farms will be located in Queensland - we truly have transitioned from the Sunshine State to the Solar State," she said.

"Combined these projects will generate enough renewable energy to power 120,000 homes."

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the company's support for the projects accelerated the nation's shift to "a sustainable, affordable and reliable energy future".

"Six plants in Queensland, five plants in New South Wales and one plant in Western Australia are slated for funding, in a major milestone that's expected to triple Australia's large-scale solar capacity from 240 MW to 720 MW," he said.

"They will provide enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes and deliver one tenth of the new capacity required to meet Australia's 2020 renewable energy target.

"Regional economies will benefit massively from the growing big solar industry, with 2,300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs expected to be created by this round."

State Energy Minister Mark Bailey, in Sydney for the announcement, said ARENA would provide upfront capital grants to support the development of six new large-scale solar projects right across Queensland, with construction set to begin early next year.

"The Whitsunday, Kidston, Oakey and Longreach Solar Farms have also been successful in securing State Government support through long-term revenue contracts" Mr Bailey said.

"This expanded support represents nearly 150 MW, almost four times the capacity of our election commitment to a 40 MW reverse auction.

"Our long-term financial support ideally complements ARENA's program, by lowering the cost of large-scale solar and removing obstacles such as financing and commercial viability."



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