A 1.5GW solar farm is being proposed for construction in south-east Queensland, as part of a massive new development application that would include two substations and a provision for battery storage.
The Somerset Regional Council said on Friday that it had received the application for the solar PV power plant, proposed for a 2,055 hectare site east of Harlin, on the D’Aguilar Highway.
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the “complex development application” had been submitted by Ethos Urban planning consultants, on behalf of a newly registered company called Sunshine Energy Australia.
“We understand the attractions of the site include its proximity to the existing high voltage power network and … to Brisbane,” Lehmann said.
“The site has been largely cleared in the past and is within one hour of the 570MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant at Splityard Creek, which is also in the Somerset Regional Council area.”
Lehmann said the development application – which included two substations, facilities for up to 60 employees and provisions for battery storage – had been referred to various government departments and agencies for their input.
“We will carefully assess it against our planning scheme like any other proposal,” he said.
The region, although home to both the Splityard Creek hydro plant, and the Wivenhoe pumped hydro power station, has hosted no large-scale solar farms as yet.
In 2011, a 400MW PV plant was proposed for near Kilcoy by a small local company called Energy Makers. That proposal was rejected by Somerset council in 2014 – a decision that was later upheld by the Queensland Ombudsman.
At the time, however that project would have seemed ambitious, compared to Australia’s one and only existing large-scale solar farm, the 10MW facility near Geraldton in WA.
Much larger, even, than the “flagship” Nyngan and Broken Hill plants in NSW, on which construction had just begun.
Ironically, the new 1.5GW plant now being proposed for the Somerset region by the little known Sunshine Energy Australia promises to be among Australia’s largest – at least for a while – if it wins approval.