DEVELOPING OUR REGION AS AUSTRALIA'S ENERGY CAPITAL
Possible 3000MW of solar projects in pipeline around Western Downs region
THE Western Downs is potentially staring down the barrel another 3000 megawatts of renewable energy investment in the next five years, according to the mayor, Paul McVeigh.
Compare that to the 550MW spread across four currently-approved solar projects and you can see why the council is excited about the next chapter in the region’s energy boom.
“That means we have a significant number of solar projects that are in the pipeline and will come online over the next five years,” Cr McVeigh said.
He was speaking to a room filled with people at the Year Ahead business breakfast organised by Chinchilla Community Commerce and Industry on Tuesday morning.
“What’s really exciting about this is that the coal seam gas investment which has enabled and driven the move to renewables was largely unforeseen.
“If we think back 13 to 15 years when the wave of the coal seam gas industry power generation came on, no one thought I would be standing up here before you, talking about the green energy wave that’s coming after that.
“We couldn’t have predicted that coal seam gas investment and the associated infrastructure would have enabled us to move to cost-effective and reliable renewable power generation.
“Learning from that scenario... we are now asking the question: what will the investment in renewable energies lead to in the future?
“We’ve trademarked the Energy Capital of Queensland so I think we need to at least start calling ourselves the Energy Capital of Australia.”
Cr McVeigh said the secret to attracting large, multi-million dollar solar projects was the ability to fast-track approvals.
“While other councils might take up to a year to approve projects, we’ve approved four in the last six months,” he said.
“The latest approval – the announcement at last month’s council meeting of the Luminous Energy 300MW Columboola project – was signed off in just seven weeks, and that was over the Christmas period as well.”
Providing certainty to companies was key.
“It shows them we are serious,” he said. “This certainty we are providing the companies makes a huge difference when they are choosing where to place their investments.”
I think we need to at least start calling ourselves the Energy Capital of Australia. — Mayor Paul McVeigh
EXCITED: WDRC Mayor Paul McVeigh speaks at the CCCI Year Ahead business breakfast at the Chinchilla Palms Restaurant on Tuesday morning.