• Neoen is to break ground on what is being touted as Australia’s largest solar farm with 400 MW capacity
  • The PV project has secured a power purchase agreement with CleanCo for 320 MW capacity of the total
  • Neoen plans to use bifacial solar technology for this project that also holds potential for 150 MW battery storage as well

CleanCo, the publicly owned renewable energy utility in Queensland, Australia, has committed to buying solar power from a 400 MW PV project in the state that is to be built by French renewable energy company Neoen. The Western Downs Green Power Hub project will be Australia’s ‘largest’ solar farm, claimed Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a virtual Stimulus Summit organized by the state government.

The arrangement with Neoen entitles CleanCo to procure power from 320 MW capacity of the 400 MW project. With this agreement, Neoen can now go ahead with the construction of the plant that it plans to begin in July 2020 with project commissioning due in Q1/2022.

Neoen will be building the project 22 km south-east of Chinchilla in the Western Downs region making use of bifacial solar technology. The project also holds potential for 150 MW battery storage component as per project website and the entire project is to take up 1,545 hectares of land. It believes the project will produce close to 1,080 GWh of clean power annually.

With this agreement, which is CleanCo’s third, the state has 820 MW of new renewable energy in the pipeline. “As our economy emerges from the worst impacts of COVID-19, we need projects ready to go that will create jobs and stimulate spending, especially in regional Queensland,” said Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad. The state aims for 50% of its electricity mix by 2030 to come from renewables and says it is on track to achieve a 20% share by the end of 2020 as it touts AUD 6 billion ($3.86 billion) of renewables investment and 3.24 GW of renewable capacity either built or underway.

This is a big project for Neoen itself that’s targeting 5 GW renewable energy capacity to be under construction or operation in its portfolio by 2021 increasing from around 3 GW currently. The French company is famous in Australia as the operator of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage capacity of 100 MW/129 MWh in Hornsdale.

Recently, the Clean Energy Council of Australia has come up with what it calls A Clean Recovery plan which it says can jumpstart the economy by encouraging solar and wind power development.