Gladstone is closer to hosting one million solar panels with the independent Coordinator-General approving a development application for a 762-hectare solar farm in the city’s State Development Area (SDA), subject to conditions. Public consultation of the application was undertaken between 13 March and 4 April 2019.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said Acciona Energy’s proposed Aldoga solar farm will create up to 240 construction jobs and 10 ongoing jobs once operational. “At maximum capacity, the $400 million solar farm will generate around 250 megawatts of energy, which is enough to supply approximately 122,000 homes annually,” Mr Dick said.

It is proposed that the power generated from the facility will be fed into the national electricity grid via a connection into the Powerlink Larcom Creek Station,

“A community benefit fund will also be established by Acciona Energy to invest $50,000 to $120,000 from the project back into the community each year,” Mr Dick added.

“Over the lifetime of the project, this will see a total of $1.5 million to $3.6 million put back into Gladstone and surrounding areas.”

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said locals will notice progress on site with the installation of two meteorological monitoring (MET) stations.

“These are being installed to gather data on the location’s climatic conditions,” Mr Butcher said. “The information gathered will help fine tune the design of the solar farm, ensuring it is as productive as possible.”

Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham said the project will help reduce emissions and tackle a changing climate.

“The proponent will also adopt Buy Queensland and Gladstone Buy Local procurement policies, giving preference to local sub-contractors and manufacturers,” Dr Lynham added.

Acciona Energy signed a 30-year agreement in April last year with the Queensland Government to lease land for their Aldoga renewable energy project.

The Coordinator-General has placed strict conditions on the project to ensure any adverse impacts, such as construction traffic, visual impacts and stormwater flow, are managed appropriately.

The community benefit fund will be in the form of a scholarship and education program, a research and development program (partnering with CQU), and a sponsorship and small grants program (for community groups and not-for-profits).