Huge wind, solar and battery project proposed for central Queensland

The first stage of a massive renewable energy hub combining wind, solar and storage in central Queensland has been unveiled in a bold pitch to supply heavy industry in the region, including the Boyne aluminium smelter.

Renewable energy developers RES and Energy Estate have revealed plans for the Moah Creek Renewable Energy Project, located located 30km west of Rockhampton, the first part of what they say could be a 2 gigawatt renewable energy hub dubbed the Central Queensland Power Project.

The Moah Creek component would combine 400MW of wind, 200MW of solar and a 300MW big battery (hours of storage not yet specified). It is in its early stages and a first community meeting is schedule in two weeks time.

“We envisage (the project) will facilitate the transition of Central Queensland’s power supply towards firmed renewable energy and in doing so to secure the future for heavy industry in the region,” the two companies said in an emailed newsletter.

“The location of this project was chosen for its good wind speeds, proximity to transmission lines, transport accessibility and our ability to achieve the project goals with minimal environmental and community impacts.”

The Moah Creek facility would be located close to the Stanwell coal fired power station, and among the major industrial loads in the area are the Boyne smelter and various proposed green hydrogen/ammonia projects in Gladstone.

“RES and Energy Estate have a shared vision for the Central Queensland region,” said Matt Rebbeck, the CEO of  RES Australia, which just last week signed a deal to sell the Dulacca wind farm to the UK-based Octopus after landing an off-take agreement with the state government owned CleanCo and securing finance.

“The CQP project will draw upon the strengths and experiences of both companies and is perfectly positioned to create jobs, deliver low cost clean energy and support the competitiveness of the region’s existing heavy industry.”

The CQP is one of a number of giga-watt scale hybrid project proposals that are emerging across the country, partly to replace ageing coal generators, and partly to offer cheap and clean power sources to the growing number of renewable hydrogen and ammonia projects.

Australia’s big smelters and refineries have traditionally relied on coal generators, or gas, for their power needs, but are increasingly turning to wind and solar given they provide cheaper power, cut emissions (important for  customers), and can be readily “firmed” to guarantee supply.

Energy Estate is involved in a number of these projects, including the giant Walcha project in NSW, a potential 4GW project which is made up of various wind, solar, battery and pumped hydro proposals.

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