The largest solar farm in Australian history has been approved for Queensland’s Western Downs and construction is expected to commence in 2021.
The Queensland Government-owned CleanCo has been contracted for 80 per cent of the work at the Western Downs Green Power Hub project while Flex company Nextracker’s solar tracker technology NX Horizon has been approved for the project.
As a rule of thumb, a single megawatt of output is enough to power 650 homes. That means this 460-megawatt project has the potential to power as many as 300,000 Australian homes in a huge boost for the renewable sector.
This Nextracker technology means that not only will the Western Downs Green Power Hub be the largest in Australia, it will also boast all of the innovative technology to make it the most efficient as well in a major boost for renewable energy in the Sunshine State.
Nextracker has a strong track record of success and their technology has been chosen for use in some of the world’s largest solar operations including the 838 MW plant in Villanueva, Mexico as well as across multiple projects across Australia.
“This milestone power plant builds upon Nextracker’s existing portfolio of four gigawatts in Australia,” Nextracker Australia & Oceania managing director Peter Wheale said.
“We have led the market by passionately delivering more customer value with best-in-class yield generation, client support and asset management technologies.”
The Western Downs Green Power Hub is a significant stride forward for the Queensland Government’s CleanCo’s commitment towards its target of constructing one gigawatt of newly installed renewable energy by 2025. Queensland also has a goal of achieving 50 per cent of its electricity coming from renewables by 2030.
Other major solar projects in Australia
Before the Nextracker project, the Darlington Point solar farm was Australia’s largest of its kind, with a 275MW output. This project came online in August 2020 and is already providing power back to the NSW grid. It will largely pick up the slack provided by the retirement of the Vales Point coal generator which was turned off at about the same time.
And while the Nextracker project will overtake Darlington Point in terms of size and output, it may not stay at the top for long. A proposed Sun Cable project for the Northern Territory could see a farm spanning an area the size of 20,000 soccer fields that will include a 10-gigawatt-capacity array of panels as well as 22 gigawatt-hours in battery storage.
Investors in the Sun Cable project include Mining magnate and philanthropist Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes with the power to be exported to Singapore, providing around 20 per cent of their total energy needs.
Other large-scale projects in Australia include the Limondale Solar Farm in New South Wales, the Bungala Solar Power Project in South Australia and the Daydream Solar Farm in Queensland and there are more large and small-scale projects being announced every year in a positive sign for the future.