GEA Major Industry Conference encourages Gladstone to become the “energy capital” of Australia

AUSTRALIAN renewable energy company Renew Estate are at the forefront of securing Gladstone as the “energy capital” of Australia after being granted planning approval to build their $300 million 300MW solar farm at Rodds Bay.

If it goes ahead at that scale, Rodds Bay will be one of the largest solar farms in Australia and will provide enough renewable energy to power about 88,000 homes. Construction is expected to start late 2018 to early 2019 and the project will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2020.

Speaking ahead of this year’s GEA Major Industry Conference on October 11 where work packages will be announced, Renew Estate director Toby Roxburgh said the project would play a pivotal role in the development of Gladstone as the “energy capital” of Queensland.

He said it would provide substantial opportunities to local businesses, contractors and workers.

“We will collaborate with local training organisations to ensure local job-seekers have the skills needed to construct and operate a solar farm, and we will prioritise the employment of locals in enduring roles once the project is operational,” Mr Roxburgh said.

“We are currently in the process of short listing EPC contractors to a short list of two which will be announced soon and part of the requirement is to maximise local content and the local workforce.”

Renew Estate said it had pinpointed Gladstone for the location of the solar farm due to its existing heavy industries, and the need for new, renewable energy supply, to replace the region’s ageing

coal-fired assets. Originally Renew Estate earmarked two solar sites in the Gladstone region with one based in Yarwun. However, following public consultation it was decided to look for a more suitable site for the project.

A new second site is expected to be announced at the conference. If the second solar project gets approval, it will be another $300 million project for the Gladstone region. Mr Roxburgh said there was already a strong workforce in Gladstone that had worked in the construction of solar farms with the priority for Renew Estate to hire local workers and contractors.

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