In a sign of confidence in Queensland’s economic recovery, the $350 million Rodds Bay Solar Farm south of Gladstone took a significant step forward today with a major shot in the arm by a UK investment group.
United Green has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake from the current project owner, Renew Estate.
The Premier said the 300MW Rodds Bay Solar Farm, 50 kilometres south of Gladstone, would be one of Australia’s largest renewables projects and would create more than 300 construction jobs.
“The equity investment from United Green is a vote of confidence in Queensland’s renewables sector and Queensland’s economic recovery as we Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs,” the Premier said.
“While there are still some steps for this project to follow, this major investment will mean hundreds of new jobs in the Gladstone region when the project is due to start later this year.”
Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher welcomed the announcement.
“This is United Green’s first entry into the Australian energy market, and they’ll add Rodds Bay to an impressive portfolio of utility-scale wind and solar developments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” he said.
“United Green’s involvement demonstrates that Queensland’s renewables sector is internationally competitive and smart money is looking to invest here, particularly in regional Queensland.
“Their investment could translate into more than 300 jobs during construction and further employment during the operational phase, so this latest step is very good news for the people of Gladstone and surrounding areas.”
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said if the project proceeded it would boost Queensland’s 6600MW of operational and committed renewable energy generation capacity.
“The Palaszczuk Government kick started the renewable energy boom in this state and with our commitment of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, we’ve created a pipeline of investment which makes us the envy of the nation,” he said.
Renew Estate Director Vincent Dwyer said the Rodds Bay project was a commitment to a sustainable future for the Gladstone region.
“We are passionate about the potential for Central Queensland as a renewable energy hub supporting heavy industry and are committed to supporting an energy transition there in partnership with the community,” he said.
“We are delighted to have secured such a capable and experienced partner in United Green, with a shared vision for Queensland as a renewable energy powerhouse.
“Rodds Bay will not only create direct employment through jobs on site but will create major opportunities for suppliers across a range of areas.
“We worked closely with Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) to secure the investment, and we are very grateful to TIQ for their introductions and support.
“We’re also continuing to work closely with them to connect into local supply chains as part of delivering jobs and regional economic development.”
United Green Chief Investment Officer Tim Mole also welcomed the move.
“We are delighted to be announcing our first project in Australia, in such a dynamic part of Central Queensland,” he said.
“The strength of support for this project from the Queensland Government, the local community, local businesses and other stakeholders gives us great confidence in taking this project forward to construction and marks Renew Estate as one of Australia’s leading renewable energy developers.
“We look forward to engaging with local businesses over coming months.”
Chief Adviser Simon Corbell from Renew Estate joint venture partner Energy Estate said that the project was due to commence early works in the coming months.
“Rodds Bay will be one of the first renewable energy projects located close to Gladstone and it will play a pivotal role in the region’s further diversification.
“We believe that the renewable energy industry needs to work with all stakeholders to create enduring jobs that build on the skills and experience of the local workforce.”
Located about 50km south of Gladstone, Rodds Bay Solar Farm is a 300MW (DC) project that has planning approval for an integrated storage facility. It will connect to Queensland’s 275kV transmission network between Bororen and Rodds Bay.
It is the latest project for Renew Estate, a joint venture between Australian companies Energy Estate, Beast Solutions and global solar operator WIRSOL Energy (the Australian arm of Germany’s WIRCON Group, which also owns the Whitsunday, Hamilton and Clermont solar farms in Queensland).
Renew Estate will continue to be a shareholder in the Rodds Bay project.