Gympie solar farm gets Council approval for $2 billion project

Gympie Regional CouncilGympie Regional Council

Gympie Regional Council green-lighted the $2 billion Lower Wonga solar farm project this week, adding to Queensland’s superiority in solar uptake nationally. Built over the next four years, the Gympie solar farm will create 450 construction jobs, 12 permanent operational positions and major business opportunities, council says.

Councillors unanimously backed the project, which is expected to generate 350MW from two million solar panels.

Gympie in the right spot for electricity distribution

The advantages of the Gympie location, according to the Gympie Times, is its proximity to the massive south-east Queensland market and customers in Wide Bay.

Gympie Solar farms is Queensland's next biggest project

Solar farms are making contributions to renewable energy across Australia. Image: Pixabay

The Lower Wonga sub-station feeds energy to Kilkivan, Gympie and Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast. It will also feed the Caboolture and Beerwah areas and into north Brisbane.

The Lower Wonga solar farm’s features include:

  • Solar PV nominal 350MW
  • 30 minutes NW of Gympie on the Wide Bay Hwy
  • Adjacent to High Voltage Substation located in Lower Wonga
  • Close to SE Qld domestic consumption
  • 735,000MWh annual generation, supplying 127,000 homes or 3% of SEQ energy demand
  • Carbon emissions reduction equivalent 180,000 cars per year

Despite initial claims the Lower Wonga solar farm would be the largest in Australia, that honour is already taken. A 2,000MW solar farm at Bulli Creek near Toowoomba was also approved this week.

Gympie solar not only game in the area: Sunshine Coast not outshone on solar uptake

South-east of Gympie, the Sunshine Coast is also embracing solar power generation.

Sunshine Coast Council now offsets 100 per cent of its electricity with renewable energy.

The new era began in July 2017 when council flicked the switch on the new 15MW Sunshine Coast Solar Farm.

The $50.4 million solar farm at Valdora, west of Coolum, will let council take control of its own electricity supply. It will also combat rising electricity costs and contribute to the region’s clean energy goals.

Council facilities offset with energy from a renewable source include:

  • administrative buildings
  • aquatic centres
  • community and performance venues
  • holiday parks
  • libraries
  • art galleries
  • sporting facilities

Apart from solar farms, Queensland also leads the nation in small-scale rooftop solar uptake.

The Clean Energy Regulator’s latest figures show 6,927 small-scale systems installed nationally in September, with a total generation capacity of 36,265kW.

Queensland made up 2,153 of those small-scale systems, with NSW coming a distant second with 1,574.