So­lar project to re­flect Ma­reeba’s fu­ture

Tablelands Advertiser - - NEWS - An­drea Falvo

PLANS to con­struct a $100 mil­lion so­lar en­ergy farm near Ma­reeba that will have the ca­pac­ity to power at least 34,000 homes has been given the green light.

Ma­reeba Shire Coun­cil this week ap­proved an ap­pli­ca­tion from Clean­gen Projects Pty Ltd to con­struct a 60-megawatt so­lar farm on Lock­wood Road, 5km south­west of Ma­reeba.

The so­lar farm op­er­a­tions will cover about 143ha, with more than 200,000 so­lar pho­to­voltaic (PV) pan­els on-site that will feed en­ergy back into the grid net­work by link­ing to the Er­gon En­ergy Turk­inje sub­sta­tion, about 2km west of the site.

Once op­er­a­tional, the so­lar farm will pro­duce more than 147,000MWh a year, off­set­ting more than 120,000 tonnes of car­bon emis­sions each year.

Clean­gen Projects Pty Ltd man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Koovashni Reddy said the project had been in the plan­ning stage for more than two years.

She said con­struc­tion was ex­pected to start late 2018 and would take eight to 12 months.

“The so­lar ra­di­a­tion in Ma­reeba is quite good and the land is quite suit­able and close to the sub­sta­tion,” she said.

“The project will cre­ate great job op­por­tu­ni­ties for the area — 200 con­struc­tion jobs and about five to eight full time op­er­a­tion roles.

“We will also be work­ing with the coun­cil and com­mu­nity to set up ap­pren­tice­ship pro­grams run­ning through the con­struc­tion stage.

“We’ll be tar­get­ing women, youth and lo­cal abo­rig­i­nal groups.”

Mayor Tom Gil­more wel­comed the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment.

“Ma­reeba prides it­self on hav­ing 300 sunny days a year so we ought to take ad­van­tage of that,” he said.

“Re­new­able en­ergy is be­com­ing more in de­mand and we are cer­tainly ex­cited about this po­ten­tial in­vest­ment.”

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