Construction of the $360 million Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Walkamin on the Atherton Tableland is on track to start before the end of the year after Ergon Energy entered into a power purchase agreement with proponents.
The wind farm, a joint development between Ratch-Australia (Ratch) and Port Bajool, was chosen ahead of six other renewable energy projects shortlisted by Ergon in November last year as part of their green energy tender process.
Power producer Ratch owns a number of wind farms around Australia including the Windy Hill wind farm near Ravenshoe, while Port Bajool has developed property in the region for more than 20 years.
Ratch business development manager Anthony Yeates said the company would be working hard with its contractors, regional authorities and services to start construction before the end of the year.
“This is a major milestone for the project as the power purchase agreement provides the revenue stream which underpins the project,” Mr Yeates said.
“We are now in a position to finalise our construction and contracting arrangements and to firm up the construction timetable, and expect to share this information with all relevant stakeholders as soon as possible.
“We expect pre-construction activities will take about six months so if all goes to plan we will break ground before the new year.
“Our assessment shows that $100 to 150 million will be spent in Australia during construction with much of this investment to be spent locally.”
Mr Yeates said employment during the construction phase was expected to peak above 150 while 15 permanent jobs would be created to operate the wind farm.
The planned Mount Emerald facility includes up to 53 turbines to potentially generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes each year.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the State Government, at the last election, committed to a public inquiry into establishing Queensland’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
“Under this Government’s commitment to renewable energy, the government-owned Ergon Energy undertook an expression of interest for up to 150MW of renewable energy last year,” the Premier said.
“This EOI sought new renewable energy projects that could help Ergon discharge its obligations under the national Renewable Energy Target in Queensland.
“The opportunity was to support new renewable energy projects in Queensland that can generate renewable energy as well as jobs locally.
“If executed, the offer of a PPA to Mount Emerald Wind Farm would secure 170MW of renewable energy for Queensland – 20MW more than the EOI had sought.”
Treasurer Curtis Pitt said this was a great way of diversifying the Atherton Tableland economy.
“In terms of investment and economic activity, the projections are for more $400 million in total expenditure in the region over the two-year construction and 25-year life of the project,” Mr Pitt said.
“When you take into account all the indirect flow-on benefits over the same period this project is worth more than $900 million to the Far North.”