Queensland government owned utility CleanCo has signed another deal with French renewable energy developer Neoen, this time for a 157MW wind farm south-east of Cairns that will form the basis of what will be called the Kaban Green Power Hub.
The power purchase agreement for the $370 million Kaban project was announced on Monday, just before the state government enters a caretaker period before the state election later this month, and is the second major deal announced between CleanCo and Neoen this year.
In May it awarded a contract to take most (320MW) of the output from the planned 400MW Western Downs solar farm in the south-west of the state, which will be the biggest in the country. And it has also signed a deal to build a new 100MW Karara wind farm in the state’s south west and take the output from a further 400MW of Acciona’s 1GW MacIntyre wind project that will adjoin it.
It is also the third major deal landed by Neoen in recent months – apart from Kaban and Western Downs it also signed a deal with the ACT government to build a 100MW wind farm at Goyder South in South Australia and a 50MW big battery, likely with two hours of storage, in the ACT itself.
The Goyder South wind farm will be the first stage in what could be the country’s biggest renewable energy hub, with Neoen looking to build up to 1200MW of wind, 600MW of solar and a 900MW/1800MWh big battery. It already operates the Hornsdale battery in South Australia and numerous wind and solar projects elsewhere in the main grid.
Neoen plans to build a 157MW wind farm at Kaban – with CleanCo taking 100MW and the remaining output to be sold on to the market or to other customers – and it says it will be completed and operating by 2023. It has approval to add battery storage of up to 100MW, but has not yet given any indication if this will go ahead, or how many hours of storage there will be if it does.
“We are delighted to be working with CleanCo and Powerlink on our second Queensland project together,” Neoen’s Australian CEO Louis de Sambucy said in a statement.
“This agreement underscores our deepening involvement in the State’s clean energy transition, and we are proud to be supporting Queensland’s progress towards its ambitious target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.”
He said the wind resource in Far North Queensland generates an electricity profile that is different and highly complementary to southern regions of the National Electricity Market.
The Queensland state Labor government believes it will reach around 20 per cent renewables by the end of 2020, and in recent months has been busily locking in other major renewable energy projects, with CS Energy and Stanwell also signing contracts with big solar and wind projects.
But the state government is also locked in a tight battle with the opposition LNP, with polls evenly balanced. The LNP has made it clear it will not pursue a 50 per cent renewable energy target, and has described the target as “reckless”.
CleanCo chief executive Maia Scheitzer said the new deal with Neoen means the company is moving closer to its target of supporting 1 GW of new renewable generation by 2025, and maintain progress towards the target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.
There have been some “system strength” issues in north Queensland that have resulted in wind and solar farms being constrained from time to time, and it is understood that this project will include a synchronous condenser, a spinning machine that is able to provide the system strength.
Paul Simshauser, the CEO of transmission company Powerlink Queensland, said in a statement the company was “excited to provide system strength support for this project, which will help further unlock the potential of the valuable North Queensland renewable energy resource.” The statement did not expand on what this meant.
The Kaban green power hub also looks set to receive assistance from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. NAIF CEO Chris Wade said the project had reached “our due diligence phase.”
“Our mission is to support projects and businesses in northern Australia to facilitate economic growth and help catalyse private sector investment. As such NAIF looks forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders, including the Queensland Government, to assist in the future development andgrowth of the State’s renewable energy sector.”
Neoen says the project will create more than 150 jobs in far north Queensland when construction begins in 2021. The wind farm will consist of 28 turbines connected via a new substation into the existing 275 kV overhead transmission line. A Community Benefit Fund will provide opportunities for local community-building initiatives totaling A$50,000 each year for the lifetime of the project.