RENEWABLE REVOLUTION: Coast's biggest solar farm switches on
ONE of the most ambitious green projects on the Fraser Coast has finally come to fruition.
Occupying a size of about 176 football fields and boasting 290,000 solar panels, the Susan River Solar Farm is already generating enough electricity to power up to 40,000 homes in the Fraser Coast.
The site, located between Hervey Bay and Maryborough, was officially opened by a range of delegates yesterday.
Connected to the National Energy Market, the 176ha solar farm will generate 180,000MWh of renewable energy from its thousands of ground-mounted solar panels.
Energy giant Elliott Green Power (EGP) has handled the construction of the $175 million project.
Elliot Green Power's chief executive officer Umberto Tamburrino said the company was looking forward to investing into more renewable energy projects in the future.
"The Susan River Solar Farm will provide various long-term benefits to the economy," Mr Tamburrino said.
"Electricity is a commodity, so when we produce it, it goes into the grid and becomes interchangeable with electricity produced by other plants.
"Obviously this will increase the footprint of clean energy produced in the area."
Mr Tamburrino said the farm would be enough to power almost 30,000 households depending on how large the electricity consumption was likely to be.
He said the site was expected to reach full capacity within the next few weeks.
Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour said he wanted to see the Fraser Coast lead the way for sustainable communities in the future.
"Every two minutes enough energy reaches the planet to power humanity for a year, the key is how to capture that, store it and utilise it," Cr Seymour said.
"Around the world, different communities are in transition to ensure their neighbourhoods, societies and economies are sustainable.
"Looking back, we'll see projects like this here on the Fraser Coast have led the way.
"This is a really fantastic project, the largest solar farm in the Wide Bay, here on the Fraser Coast."
Cr Seymour said the council's goal was to make the Fraser Coast "the biggest producers of solar power in the state".
"We want to see more of these solar installations across the region," he said.
More than 260 jobs were created during the project's eight-month construction phase.
Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders called the project a "win-win" and said at least 80 per cent of the construction workforce came from the local area.
"During construction local quarries, concrete suppliers, surveyors, engineering firms, equipment hire businesses and fuel suppliers all did business with the owners," Mr Saunders said.
"Renewable projects like the Susan River Solar Farm... help generate clean energy and jobs and business opportunities for the local economy."
The Susan River site is the first of three solar farms within the region to be completed.
A 75MW solar farm near Childers, also being handled by EGP, is also nearing completion while another project in Munna Creek was approved by the Fraser Coast Regional Council last year.
Last month, the developers of the Teebar Solar Farm received their 534A letter from the Australian Energy Market Operator, effectively giving them the green light for development.
Elliott Green Power is also handling the construction of a major 132MW solar farm near Warren in north-west NSW.
Assistant Minister for Treasury Glenn Butcher said solar energy would help drive down energy costs and create ease for agricultural industries across Queensland.
He said the project was ensuring the State Government would meet its 50 per cent renewable energy target.
The Susan River site is the 20th major solar project to come online in Queensland over the last two years, with another 13 large-scale projects under construction across the state.