A MASSIVE Toowoomba region solar farm and battery storage project could be worth more than $1.5bn and employ about 450 people during construction if realised.
Brisbane boutique renewable energy developer Skylab lodged plans with the Toowoomba Regional Council last week for a two-stage 800MW solar project and 250MW battery storage system across more than 1300ha of agricultural land at Punch’s Creek.
The project, to be located about an hour southwest of Toowoomba, has been in development since 2019 but was fast-tracked following changes in government policy and the increasing purchasing price for solar power.
It comes as the Darling Downs finds itself as the host of some of the biggest solar and wind projects in both Australia and the southern hemisphere.
According to the planning report by Echo Consultants’ Claire Driessen, the project would feed electricity into the existing Powerlink 330kV transmission line that runs through the site.
“(The battery system) will store excess energy generated by the solar farm and support the grid by providing power to the grid in peak periods of demand or when there is a lack of energy generation,” the report said.
“The solar and battery facility will represent a positive diversification of the local economy, in addition to the existing and predominant agricultural industries in the area.
“The renewable energy facility will greatly benefit the local economy through the creation of up to 450 jobs during the construction phase, up to 10 permanent jobs during the operational phase, as well as indirect benefits to local businesses, contractors and suppliers.
“The proposed development area represents an ideal location as it is already cleared and modified due to preparation and use of the site for cropping and grazing purposes, and the Powerlink (transmission line) traverses directly through the site,” the report said.
Ms Driessen’s report said the site would still be used for sheep grazing, arguing it would “result in direct and indirect economic benefits through the grazing itself, farm jobs and growth in the sheep industry in the region”.Skylab managing director Cameron Meekin, who had recently completed a 100MW solar farm at Goondiwindi, said the current political climate was about to prompt a wave of investment in renewables.