Andrew Forrest confirmed on Sunday his privately owned Squadron Energy has acquired the two-stage Clarke Creek wind, solar PV and battery development in central Queensland with contracts already issued for the immediate start of construction of the first 450MW wind stage of the renewable energy project.
Squadron said when complete, the proposed 1.2GW Clarke Creek wind and solar farm, being developed about 150 kilometres northwest of Rockhampton, would be the largest renewable energy precinct in the southern hemisphere.
The company said the project could produce enough wind, solar and battery energy to power more than 660,000 Queensland households and will export lower cost electricity directly into the National Electricity Market (NEM).
Forrest said the acquisition was a landmark moment for Australia’s green energy future.
“We have commenced construction of what will be the largest renewable energy precinct in the southern hemisphere – but I am delighted to say that we will not hold this record for long, with other renewable energy projects under development that will surpass our project in scale,” he said.
“We intend to bring on other projects which will be larger than today’s record.
The Clarke Creek project, originally developed by Lacour Energy and Goldwind, comprises an 800MW wind farm, up to 400MW of solar installations, and a battery energy storage facility of an as yet unspecified size although there have been reports Squadron is looking at installing up to 2GWh of battery storage at the site.
With grid connection, long-term supply agreements and all necessary state and federal approvals for Clarke Creek already in place, Squadron said it will now accelerate the start of construction with stage one anticipated to be fully operational in 2024. The company said stage two could come online in 2026.
“Due to its combination of solar, wind and battery technologies, it will help directly lower power prices for millions of Queensland households and businesses,” Squadron said.
Forrest said Clarke Creek’s grid-scale generation capability is expected to displace 2.7 million tonnes of carbon each year and aligns with the Queensland government’s integrated energy plan for the state.
“We are investing in Clarke Creek not only to harness the renewable power of the wind and sun to energise our homes, our factories and our cities, but as a critical step towards breaking our reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.
“Climate change is the single greatest threat to our existence, and we must meet this global challenge with tenacity and speed. This announcement is a signal that Australia is prepared to act with purpose to realise our 100%, green, renewable, zero-emissions energy future.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the commitment from Squadron, saying the project would generate jobs and help the government achieve its renewable energy ambitions.
“Delivering such a huge renewable energy boost takes Queensland closer to achieving our targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050,” she said.
Forrest said the development approval for the project had been secured in May 2018, federal environmental approval in November 2018 and grid connection approval earlier this year while a supply deal for most of the output of the first stage has also been secured.
In August 2020, the government-owned Stanwell Corporation and the state government announced a 346.5MW Power Purchase Agreement for the 450MW first stage of the Clarke Creek Wind Farm as part of a 15-year commitment to the project.
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