10 Biggest Upcoming Renewable Energy Projects In Australia20 Oct, 20216:31
Australia is already well known for its abundant oil and gas and other natural resources, an...
Australia is already well known for its abundant oil and gas and other natural resources, and thanks to a concerted push by state governments, policy makers and energy companies, it's quickly becoming a globally recognised leader in renewable energy too.
In 2018 alone Australia’s renewable energy and storage project pipeline surpassed $20 billion worth of investment, with around 80 projects under construction creating over 13,000 direct jobs. According to data from the Clean Energy Regulator, Australia installed about 10,400MW of new renewable energy over the course of 2018 and 2019, of which 7,200MW were be large-scale renewables, and 3,200MW rooftop solar.
If this rate of installation growth continues it’s estimated that Australia’s energy mix could reach 50% renewables by 2025. An analysis by the ANU Energy Change Institute suggests that the Australia energy industry has now demonstrated the capacity to deliver 100% renewable electricity by the early 2030s.
With these impressive figures in mind, and the opportunity for significant numbers of renewable energy job opportunities on the horizon, we decided to take a look at the 10 biggest renewable energy projects happening in Australia.
1. Walcha Energy Project
Cost: $5bn (approx.) | Location: New South Wales
Combining onshore wind and solar energy generation with pumped storage hydro, the Walcha Energy Project is very much an ‘all-in-one’ renewable energy project. Situated around 55km south of Armidale in the New England tablelands, the Walcha Energy Project will be the biggest single renewable energy project in Australia’s main grid once it has been completed and connected in 2022. It’s estimated that the project’s generation potential is equivalent to 15% of NSW’s electricity demand with a total power output in the region of 4,000MW.
The Walcha Energy project is being primarily developed by MirusWind and Energy Estate, and is part of ongoing efforts in the region to replace older fossil fuel generation with cleaner sources of electricity. A string of coal plant retirements including the closure of Liddell Power Station in 2022 and other plants during the mid-2030s means large-scale renewables projects such as Walcha are needed to keep the lights on.
2. Liverpool Range Wind Farm
Cost: $2bn (approx.) | Location: New South Wales
Another project which is seeking to ween New South Wales off fossil fuels is the Liverpool Range Wind farm, situated between Cassilis and Coolah, in the middle of the Upper Hunter area. With over 260 turbines set to be installed this project is expected to have a power output of 979MW, providing green energy to local businesses and households.
Although originally commenced by Epuron, the Liverpool Range Wind Farm project has since been sold to Tilt Renewables which is aiming to become ‘the leading developer, owner and manager of renewable energy generation assets in Australia and New Zealand’.
The project was granted approval from the NSW Department of Planning & Environment in late-2018.
3. Kennedy Energy Park
Cost: $2bn (approx.) | Location: Queensland
Billed as a ‘world-first’ wind, solar and energy storage facility Kennedy Energy Park will be located in Flinders Shire in central north Queensland, and will feature 43MW of wind, 15MW of solar, and 2MW/4MWh of battery storage. These initial power generation facilities are intended to act as a ‘proof of concept’ with the ultimate plan to construct up to 1,200MW of renewable energy generation. Eurus Energy and Windlab, the two companies behind the project, predict this renewable energy generation will provide electricity for an equivalent of 800,000 homes.
The Kennedy Energy Park project makes careful use of geography to maximise its energy generation potential. Windlab selected the location as it has one of the highest levels of solar irradiance that can be connected into electricity networks, and it is also home to a ‘complimentary’ wind source.
What makes it so complimentary is that on a typical day the solar resource ramps up in the morning as the wind slows down, and in the evening as the sun is setting the wind picks up and continues to generate steady power throughout the night.
4. Desailly Renewable Energy Park
Cost: $2bn (approx.) | Location: Queensland
Desailly Renewable Energy Park will be situated approximately 75km to the north-west of the town of Mareeba and 55km west of Port Douglas in North Queensland, generating clean energy primarily from a solar photovoltaic (PV) farm with connected battery energy storage.
DP Energy, the company behind the project, expects to install 1,000MW of solar PV capacity, up to 400MW of battery storage and up to 3,000MW of synchronous condenser capacity via one or more synchronous condenser facilities.
Development of the project will take place in five stages. Once operational the solar PV farm will export power to the National Electricity Market (NEM) throughout its expected operational life of approximately 25 years.
5. Clarke Creek Energy Hub
Cost: $1.5bn (approx.) | Location: Queensland
Another ‘energy hub’, Clarke Creek will consist of a wind and solar power plant located 150km north west of Rockhampton in the Isaac Shire and Livingstone Shire in Queensland. Initial plans call for the installation of 195 wind turbines, each with 4.5MW capacity alongside 400MW of solar panels and grid-scale battery storage.
The project is in an area of high wind and solar resources and close to an existing main road from Marlborough to Sarina. The project is also adjacent to the existing high voltage electricity transmission network, with three large transmission lines providing the ability to connect the project to the region’s grid.
Following environmental approval from the federal government in January 2019, the development of the project is going ahead with Clarke Creek Energy and Lacour Energy the main operators. Construction of the project is expected to take three years with start-up planned for 2022 at the latest.
6. SEA Solar Farm Project
Cost: $1.5bn (approx.) | Location: Queensland
The SEA (Sunshine Energy Australia) solar farm project is an ambitious mix of solar generation and energy storage which is aiming to generate enough electricity to supply around 300,000 households in the Queensland area every year for the next 25 years. Around 1,500MW of solar generation will be installed alongside 500MWh of energy storage. Expected to be completed in several stages, the project will create over 1,000 new jobs, both onsite and logistically, of which 30-60 permanent jobs will be created to run and maintain the solar farm once completed.
7. Jim’s Plain Wind Farm
Cost: $1.2bn (approx.) | Location: Tasmania
Spread over 380 hectares in Tasmania, the Jim’s Plain onshore wind farm will have an aggregate energy potential somewhere between 600MW and 1000MW. Whilst still very much in the planning stages, the Jim’s Plain project may also include solar PV facilities in addition to wind turbines (although a statement from UPC Renewables, the company behind the Jim’s Plain project, says that the addition of solar PV is very much ‘subject to the economics stacking up’).
Should the planning and feasibility stages of Jim’s Plain work out, the project could be up and running this year.
8. Wandoan South Solar Power Project
Cost: $1.2bn (approx.) | Location: Queensland
Singapore-based Equis Energy is planning to construct a 1,000MW solar PV farm located across 1,400 hectares of land near Wandoan, north-west of Brisbane. This is another project which is expected to make a major contribution to satisfying Australia’s growing domestic energy demand, providing enough power on an annual basis to supply the needs of 255,000 homes.
Equis was granted approval to proceed with development in August 2017, and the $1.2 billion project is being developed in three stages with the installation of the nearly 3 million individual solar PV panels.
9. Ceres Onshore Wind Farm
Cost: £1.1bn (approx.) | Location: South Australia
Claimed to be the first project to connect a capital city to wind power via an undersea cable, the Ceres Onshore Wind Farm will sit on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia from where its more than 180 wind turbines will generate 600MW.
Senvion, the company behind the Ceres project, intends for it to ‘showcase South Australia’s status as a global clean energy leader while bringing significant economic and social benefits including up to 500 construction and 50 ongoing jobs’.
As many as 200,000 households are expected to be powered directly from the Ceres project.
10. Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park
Cost: $1bn (approx.) | Location: South Australia
Another integrated wind and solar energy project, the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park will work on a similar basis to the Kennedy Energy Park outlined above. The Port Augusta project will be located at a locus point of both solar and wind resources, meaning it will be able to balance the relative quantities of wind and solar generation, thus tailoring the electricity generation profile to meet the demand profile from the local grid.
In other words, the project’s location will reduce intermittency issues and reduce the need for expensive peaking power.
The brainchild of DP Energy, the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park will feature both wind turbines and solar photovoltaic (PV) modules across approximately 5,400 hectares of land running from Port Paterson in the north to Winninowie in the south and spanning Highway One.
DP Energy has stated that the total generation capacity of the project will be up to 375MW, producing enough energy to power approximately 154,000 south Australian households. Construction is anticipated to last around 18 months during which 250 jobs will be created. Once fully operational, the project will support 15-20 ongoing jobs.
Generating clean green jobs across Australia
For years Australia has been a strong source of jobs for both local and expatriate technical / engineering professionals in the oil, mining and natural resources industries. Now it can also claim to be a world-leader in renewable industry jobs, thanks to the projects outlined above (and many more!).
In 2019 alone, the renewable energy project pipeline created over 13,000 jobs right across the project lifecycle from construction and planning through to maintenance and operations. That’s an impressive number, and it’s one that has been growing larger as Australia continues to act as a shining example of the energy transition.
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