LET THERE BE LIGHT: Wandoan to host Shell’s first solar farm. Pic: Supplied
LET THERE BE LIGHT: Wandoan to host Shell’s first solar farm. Pic: Supplied

New Western Downs solar farm to generate 200 jobs

WANDOAN is set to host a global first - Shell Australia's first solar farm.

The construction phase will bring 200 job to the region, with the project set for completion in 2021.

The industrial scale solar farm will generate 120 megawatts of solar electricity from about 400,000 photovoltaic panels which will feed into their gas plants.

Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh said the region was leading the way for the energy sector in Australia.

"A great thing about what's happening in Wandoan is it's diversifying the economic capacity of our region," Cr McVeigh said.

"This cements the Western Downs as the energy capital of Queensland, if not the energy capital of Australia.

"We have a whole array of energy development and providers in our region, from coal to gas, to renewables and ethanol - this is just a great accolade to the Western Downs region to have embraced the capacity to be able to provide energy… delivering some of the cleanest energy to our region."

Mr McVeigh said the project would provide a boost to the local economy, as well as creating hundreds of job opportunities.

"Once it starts there will be an immediate impact on things like accommodation and buy and hire local… there will be a flow on of benefits, even down to our local supermarkets," he said.

"One of the things that council certainly does encourage when these big companies come to our region is that they make sure they look at the local business capabilities we have in our region that are able to provide services."

Some locals have expressed concern about loss of farming land but Mr McVeigh said minimal impact was done and the area could be returned to agricultural land.

"It's only a small footprint to the amount of agriculture land, there's always some challenges around the use of the land but certainly the council does take that into mind when allowing these developments," he said.

"The economic return to our region and the nation is greater by having the energy development there."

Energy Minister Dr Lynham said the solar farm would generate clean energy for QGC's natural gas processing plants, showing how gas as a transition fuel and clean energy assets can coexist.

"The Darling Downs and southwest Queensland is literally an energy powerhouse," Dr Lynham said.

"These regions have developed the unprecedented large scale $70 billion onshore gas industry from a standing start, now it hosting some of largest clean energy generators in the country."

Dr Lynham said the solar farm followed AGL and Vena Energy's announcement of Queensland's biggest battery near Wandoan.

"AGL and Vena's battery will be a stone's throw away from the Gangarri solar farm," Dr Lynham said.

"Around $5 billion has been invested in renewable energy projects in Queensland since December 2016, creating 4700 jobs.

"Queensland now has almost 5500 megawatts of renewable generation capacity."

Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan said solar would play an increasing role in the global energy system, especially when partnered with a reliable energy source such as gas.

"This is Shell's first global investment in an industrial-scale solar farm, and we are proud to be investing in the Sunshine State," Mr Nunan said.

"It will help power the operations of our QGC project and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by around 300,000 tonnes a year."


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