UNDERWAY SOON: A solar farm near Chinchilla will commence construction in July this year, creating 400 jobs.
UNDERWAY SOON: A solar farm near Chinchilla will commence construction in July this year, creating 400 jobs.

Australia’s biggest solar farm to be built in Western Downs

NEOEN has successfully negotiated a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with publicly owned renewable generator CleanCo to build Australia's largest solar farm near Chinchilla.

Construction is scheduled to start in July creating more than 400 jobs, with the first energy output planned for the first quarter of 2022.

Neoen became members of the Chinchilla Community Commerce and Industry Inc (CCCI) once their project was approved and have been working together ever since, creating a very positive relationship.

CCCI president Robyn Haig said they had several meetings in advance and have been working very closely to secure local content for the project.

"We are encouraged by their early commitment to local engagement and content for this project," she said.

"Neoen has contacted the chamber again this morning to reinforce their position on wanting to engage locally.

"They have been the best example of any of the solar projects when it comes to engaging with the local chamber.

"I would like to commend them for their actions in that area so far."

This mornings announcement was well received by several members, who were excited about the opportunity to work on the project.

Knowing how labour-intensive solar farms can be during the construction phase, Ms Haig believes it's also very positive for local businesses and local job seekers and should be well received.

The next phase of the project will be to announce the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, who will be the major contractor for the project.

"We openly invited the EPC to engage with the local community and the chamber to ensure they deliver on the local content.

"Neoen have said they are passionate about local jobs which means the EPC will likely be also.

"Everyone local will be very interested in finding out who that is and discuss opportunities within that project as soon as it's possible.

"With construction beginning in July and there generally needs to be a bit of lead-in time when that company will need to get mobilised, get their workers organised and work-ready, so I believe the announcement will be imminent."

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham has today also confirmed that the project would secure local content, stating that the PPA between Neoen and CleanCo would support regional jobs and grow the local economy.

"Neoen will maximise the use of suppliers and the local workforce in Chinchilla and the southwest to ensure the benefits of this development are shared in the region," he said.

"It will also establish an annual $100,000 Community Benefit Fund that provides opportunities for local community-building initiatives for the duration of the project's life."

Neoen's Western Downs Green Power Hub is 22km southeast of Chinchilla and will connect to the electricity grid via a new overhead line to publicly owned Powerlink's existing Western Downs substation.

The project will generate enough energy to power about 235,000 Queensland homes.

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