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Queensland’s largest wind farm project reaches financial close

Construction will begin shortly on the $360 million Mount Emerald Wind Farm in North Queensland.

State Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the wind farm reaching financial close is another exciting step in Queensland’s renewable energy journey.

“The Atherton Tableland’s Mount Emerald Wind Farm is a prime example of industry and investor confidence in the government’s ambition to drive new renewable energy investment and jobs in our regions,” he said.

This project now has engineering, procurement and construction contracts in place, a long-term operations and maintenance contract, a 25-year grid connection agreement with Powerlink, and finance secured.

It follows State Government-owned Ergon Energy’s agreement to buy all of the electricity generated by the wind farm through to the end of 2030, after having completed an expression of interest process in the year 2015.

“The project is being developed by major renewable investor Ratch Australia and will boost Queensland investment by $360 million, creating 150 direct jobs during construction, which is expected to commence in early December,” Bailey said.

“This project will see opportunities throughout the North Queensland’s local supply chain, for example, the towers and turbine will be brought through the Cairns port and transported to site, and, during the process there will also be requirements to employ local professional services.

“The State Government has made its renewable intentions abundantly clear – to create jobs of the future, boost investment and act on climate change.”

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said Far Northern Queenslanders have longed for a power station for a long time and now one is in the pipeline that will be 100 per cent carbon neutral, using the latest technology.

“This is a great way of diversifying the Tablelands’ economy and innovating for the future,” he said.

“In terms of direct investment and economic activity, the projections are for more than $400 million in total expenditure in the region over the two-year construction period and 25-year life of the project. Indirectly the flow-on benefits are estimated to be around $1 billion to the local economy over that same period. Crucially this will deliver new job opportunities in an area of need here in the Far North.

“At the election the State Government promised to be committed to innovation and work to deliver the jobs, opportunities and industries of the future – which is exactly what this project does.”

Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke said more renewable energy projects are expected to be delivered across Queensland in the coming years.

“These include six renewable projects through the latest [Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)] process being built across the [Sunshine] State, including in Georgetown, Oakey, Longreach, and two projects in the Whitsundays,” she said.

“These projects position Queensland as a leader for renewable energy investment and combined, will deliver $630 million of new investment, creating around 600 direct jobs and hundreds more indirect jobs in our regions.

“They are part of a pipeline of 2500 megawatts of proposed projects across the State and form part of our long-term commitment to this dynamic new industry.”

Minister Bailey said an independent expert panel was appointed in January to investigate credible pathways to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 for Queensland.

“The expert panel’s Credible Pathways draft report identified $6.7 billion of investment will be required delivered for Queensland under a 50 per cent renewable energy target,” he said.

“They also estimated the target would deliver more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs each year, primarily in regional Queensland.

“Importantly, the expert panel also projected a 50 per cent target would have a cost-neutral impact on electricity consumers over the 14 year period, and that security and reliability of supply would be maintained for Queenslanders.

“The State Government is growing an exciting renewable energy future for Queensland. This clean energy industry will provide long-term benefits for Queenslanders by creating jobs, and boosting economic growth.”

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