200 construction jobs at solar farm west of Toowoomba

SHELL Australia has announced it will build and operate its first industrial-scale solar electricity farm
near Wandoan, west of Toowoomba.

The solar farm will generate 120 megawatts of solar electricity from about 400,000 photovoltaic panels and is expected to be completed in early 2021.

The project will create up to 200 new jobs during construction. 

Shell said the investment was the latest example of how the company is building a cleaner, global power business and follows its recent acquisition of leading industrial electricity retailer, ERM Power, and investment in solar developer, ESCO Pacific.

Shell Energy Australia will be the foundation customer for the project, with an equivalent amount of electricity purchased from the national grid and sold to Shell's QGC business, reducing their carbon footprint. 

Queensland was selected as the location for the project due to its natural advantages for solar generation, having some of the most reliable sunshine in the world.

The project is also located adjacent to existing power infrastructure and inside the footprint of Shell's QGC onshore natural gas project that stretches across Queensland's Western Downs region. 

"We believe solar will play an increasing role in the global energy system, especially when partnered with a reliable energy source such as gas," Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan said. 

"We are proud to be investing in the Sunshine State and Queensland is a key centre of activity for Shell's global ambition to expand our integrated power business. Shell's Gangarri solar farm will help power the operations of our QGC project and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 300,000 tonnes a year."

State Energy Minister Dr Lynham said the solar farm will generate clean energy for QGC's natural gas processing plants, showing how gas as a transition fuel and clean energy assets can coexist. 

"With Shell sanctioning this 400,000 panel solar farm it will become part of Queensland's clean energy revolution, which is providing the world a practical template on how to transition to low emissions future," Dr Lynham said. 

"The Darling Downs and South West Queensland is literally an energy powerhouse, these regions have developed the unprecedented large scale $70 billion onshore gas industry from a standing start, now it hosting some of largest clean energy generators in the country. 

"I welcome Shell's first global investment in an industrial-scale solar farm on Queensland soil and I am also pleased they have recognised the Iman people the traditional owners of the land of where the farm will be constructed and named the project Gangarri. 

"Gangarri is a fitting name for the project, Gan meaning sun and Garri meaning light in the Iman people's dialect."

Yarranlea solar farm: Work continues on the Gildemeister LSG Solar Australia solar farm at Yarranlea near Pittsworth.
Yarranlea solar farm: Work continues on the Gildemeister LSG Solar Australia solar farm at Yarranlea near Pittsworth.