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By Dan stewart, Brightus
September 5, 2017
The ‘world’s biggest solar farm’ is certainly a title worth fighting for, and has been tussled over since the beginning of the decade. The claim first belonged to a 97MW Photovoltaic Power Plant in Sarnia in 2010, later to a pair of equally sized 550MW plants in California in 2014 and, finally, to a 900MW plant in India just this year. However, there will soon be a new contender for the title. Equis Energy, a Singapore-based renewable energy developer has announced plans to build a 1000MW solar farm in Queensland, capable of expanding even further if desired.
The enormous farm, set to be situated near Wandoan in south-east Queensland, will cover just 1424 hectares of the 5000 hectares Equis have available, and cost around AUD$2 billion. Due to the scale of the project, 300 to 400 jobs will be generated during the construction period alone, as cabling, framing, and panelling are laid. The Western Downs Regional Council Mayor, Paul McVeigh, is confident about the decision to build: “It’s a $2 billion construction cost and of that we expect at least 50 per cent of that to be invested in the local community. This 1000MW farm is definitely the largest in Australia that is approved at this stage and potentially one of the largest in the world.” (Courier Mail)This is only one example of Australia’s shift towards renewable energy. Thanks to the size of the nation and the varying environment and landscape, Australia has been constructing and approving various renewable energy projects and battery storage facilities across the nation. Only a few months before the announcement of the Queensland solar energy project, South Australia announced the construction of a 330MW solar facility. Headed by the Lyon Group, the South Australian project will comprise 3.4 million solar panels, and an astounding 1.1 million batteries. Although the project may not be the largest solar power plant, it is one of the biggest battery storage units, overshadowing the current largest active solar farm in India.
Solar power isn’t the only renewable energy source ‘hitting the big time’ in Australia. Engie and GE, two of the world’s largest energy providers have recently announced plans to construct a 119MW wind farm, again in South Australia. The 32-turbine project is the third large-scale project to be announced in South Australia in recent months. Geoff Culbert, the GE Australia President and CEO is confident about the continued push into Australian renewable energy, saying: “This will be our fourth wind farm to begin construction in 2017, with more than 300 GE turbines either operating or under construction across the country, capable of powering the equivalent of more than 500,000 Australian homes with renewable energy. It is encouraging to see more projects like this reach financial close, and we look forward to continuing to bring the best renewables technology to Australia.” (Renew Economy)To put the scope of these renewable energy sources into perspective, it’s important to understand what a plant that produces around 1000MW is capable of. On average, the Australian home uses around 18kWh a day, only .018 of a megawatt. This means that for every hour of full capacity function, a 1000MW factory can power over 55,555 Australian homes. This, of course, depends on the ever-changing weather, the amount of power storage available, and also the varying transmission constraints of the grid.
In 2016, Australia was generating 14 per cent of the nation’s electricity through renewable sources while China was sitting at of 25 per cent. As large-scale, billion-dollar renewable energy projects across the nation are put to tender, Australian construction companies will continue to train personnel on the ins-and-outs of these projects. This increase in constructional capacity will further fuel what is already a budding shift towards clean energy.
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The Future of Green Building
Is Green Building Worth It?
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