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All Eyes to Renewable Energy for Job Growth in Far North Queensland


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Jobs are already opening up in Far North Queensland with the region’s sudden boom in renewable energy projects.

On completion, the 148 megawatt farm is expected to generate enough clean electricity to power approximately 54,000 homes. 

They include the $225 million Ross River Solar Farm, a large scale project 20 km south of Townsville.  On completion, the 148 megawatt farm is expected to generate enough clean electricity to power approximately 54,000 homes.

Australian-based solar developer, ESCO Pacific, and specialist independent infrastructure manager, Palisade Investment Partners, are partners in delivering the project.

Downer Utilities has been appointed as the Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) contractor.

Site preparation works commenced this month, and the project team is already scouting for the construction workforce.

Project Director, Lyndon Frearson, said priority tasks before construction commences are the creation of a new site road entry, installation of perimeter fencing and set up of a site office and facilities for the construction team.

Mr Frearson said that at peak construction, a workforce of around 250 contractors and labourers will be required on-site, with local labour prioritised wherever possible.

“Recruitment is happening now to ensure we have a pool of appropriately skilled local workers to work alongside our specialist project team and operations staff,” he said. 

“Recruitment is happening now to ensure we have a pool of appropriately skilled local workers to work alongside our specialist project team and operations staff,” he said.

“Individuals or companies that would like to understand the opportunities for Australian Industry can contact us via the [project] website.”

A total of 417,600 polycrystalline solar panels are being procured for the solar farm. These will be delivered in stages to the Port of Townsville.

The engineering design will see the panels attached to a ground-mounted single axis tracking system that will slowly track the daily movement of the sun, maximising the amount of energy the solar farm generates.

Construction is expected to be completed by late next year.

Overall, the North Queensland renewable energy sector is running red hot, with around $5 billion in projects in the pipeline. The Australian Solar Council and Battery Storage Council have estimated the developments will result in the generation of more than 5,000 Megawatts of electricity and support 3,200 jobs.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the figures represent a vote of confidence in the government’s renewable energy policies, which include a target of 50 per cent of state state’s electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030.

"From the 5 Megawatt Scouller Energy solar farm near Normanton, to the 180 Megawatt Mt Emerald Wind Farm and the 250 Megawatt Genex Kidston Pumped Hydro project, these projects represent an extraordinary amount of investment in an industry that barely existed two and a half years ago," Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Government recently released a $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan that aims to generate more jobs and investment in the sector. 

The Government recently released a $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan that aims to generate more jobs and investment in the sector.

"The Plan will reinvest $150 million in dividends from our electricity assets – which we own – to build the transmission infrastructure necessary to connect these renewable projects to the grid," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"The investment ensures we can offer secure and affordable electricity for Queensland homes and Queensland businesses far into the future.”

She added that the government’s injection of investment in renewable energy is being almost exclusively devoted to regional and rural areas where “additional economic activity is amplified”.

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