$2 billion plan to build mega wind farm
Australia's biggest wind farm providing low-cost energy for mining and industrial development has been proposed for Hughenden in North Queensland.
A development company called North Queensland Renewable Energy Zone, involving local engineers and graziers, is behind the ambitious $2 billion plan.
The company's executive director, Townsville engineer and James Cook University graduate Dr John Keir, said the proposal was different to that of Australian wind farm developer Windlab, which shelved its Big Kennedy project in the same area last year.
The Mount James Wind Farm, planned for grazing land north of Hughenden, would deliver clean, renewable energy to support the growth of the North West Minerals Province, Dr Keir said.
"A project like this not only provides sustainable benefit to the North but it increases the decarbonisation of Australia as a whole," Dr Keir said.
"It would be a major step in the right direction for the sustainable jobs and diversified infrastructure the State Government is seeking."
To be developed in stages, the project ultimately would have a capacity of up to 1000 megawatts of electricity - almost as much as North Queensland's current peak load - and would be Australia's biggest wind farm, more than twice the size of the Coopers Gap wind farm near Kingaroy.
About 200 wind turbines would be installed, creating 350 construction jobs.
Flinders Shire Mayor Jane McNamara welcomed the proposal but warned the region's transmission capacity needed to be upgraded to accommodate it.
The wind farm developers are relying on the development of the $1.5 billion CopperString transmission line planned to be built between Townsville and Mount Isa from next year.
"I'm excited about it because it's part of a whole plan for renewables," Cr McNamara said. "Obviously, it all hinges on CopperString going ahead."
CopperString developer John O'Brien said the Mount James proposal was an example of the projects the transmission line would generate.
Dr Keir said site acquisition, feasibility and planning studies had been completed.
He said approvals and permiting were likely within 12 months, with financing expected to be completed by the September quarter next year ahead of an anticipated construction start in early 2022.
Originally published as $2 billion plan to build mega wind farm