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Work beginning next year on huge Gladstone renewable project

Glenn Butcher and Economic Development Queensland land planning and development manager John Brun at the Aldoga site.
Glenn Butcher and Economic Development Queensland land planning and development manager John Brun at the Aldoga site. Mike Richards GLA200417SOLAR

WORK on a proposed renewable energy hub at Aldoga could begin early next year.

The State Government called for expressions of interest in April this year to build on the State Development Area .

Assistant Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said the response had been "incredible" with 16 submissions received.

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Although Mr Butcher and the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning would not reveal what companies were involved, the Gladstone MP said there were a number of "well-known and reputable renewable energy developers" in the mix. "This level of interest is very encouraging and shows there's a big appetite out there for new, large-scale renewables projects to go alongside our existing energy mix," he said.

Mr Butcher said renewable energy was important to the state's economic future.

The project has the potential to put 450MW, enough to power 130,000 homes into the grid, given its location next to the Larcom Creek substation.

"Importantly, additional supply from these renewable power generators will really help to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices," Mr Butcher said.

Economic Development Queensland is conducting a two-stage competitive process to lease the 1248 hectare piece of land and will now consider the submissions. A decision on the preferred proponent is expected to be made by the end of the year, with construction design and engineering starting in early 2018.

Solar Power Gladstone owner/operator Murray Kay welcomed the news there were so many submissions.

However, he said there was a lot that needed to be taken into account to make the project a success.

"Storage is now going to be the next huge thing," he said. "If they are going to have a big farm like that then they will have to have some sort of storage."

Mr Kay said he believed solar would be the right option for the Aldoga site.

"We're almost on the Tropic of Capricorn which is the perfect place for solar," he said.

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Pushing for battery storage in relation to solar is something Mr Kay sees as vital for the facility but also for household solar.

"Peak (use) is normally about 4-8pm."

However peak generation is usually in the middle of the day, hence the need for investing in batteries, Mr Kay says.

"It will smooth out the peaks, the more people that go to batteries ... there won't be such a peak."

Mr Butcher said the Aldoga project would put Gladstone on the renewable energy map, generating jobs and boosting the economy.

Topics:  gladstone construction gladstone jobs gladstone project renewable solar



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