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Neoen has completed financial close on the $370 million Kaban Green Power Hub in Far North Queensland, with construction already beginning to connect the Hub to the electricity grid in Queensland’s first Renewable Energy Zone (QREZ).

The project is designed to generate clean, affordable energy and strengthen the electricity network, consisting of a 320km transmission line upgrade of the North Queensland coastal circuit and a wind farm featuring 28 Vestas V162 turbines, which at 5.6MW capacity, will be amongst the largest in Australia. 

EPC contractor Vestas was provided with notice to proceed in May, the site was mobilised in early June and civil works are now underway. 

The project is set to deliver over 250 construction jobs and generate 457GWh of affordable clean energy each year from 2023when the project is scheduled for full energy generation. 

Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Investment, Cameron Dick, said projects like Kaban would enable Queensland to maintain and strengthen its role as the energy powerhouse of the National Electricity Market.

“Queensland has long been the backbone of Australia’s energy grid, and our government’s commitment to developing a series of renewable energy zones across the state complements our existing generation strengths in renewables, coal and gas,” Mr Dick said.

“We know a clear energy and climate policy creates investment certainty for business, supporting growth in economic activity and employment.

“That’s why Queensland has seen over 5,000MW of planned renewable investment, supporting 7,000 construction jobs.”

The wind farm will be entirely owned by Neoen, with debt financing provided by a syndicate of five lenders, BNP Paribas, HSBC, MUFG, NAB and NORD/LB. 

Neoen and Powerlink Queensland are partnering to upgrade the line between Cairns and Townsville which will substantially improve the network’s capability, unlocking up to 500MW of additional capacity for future projects. 

The Queensland Government has also committed funding towards the transmission network upgrade, which will support the wind farm and establish the Northern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (REZ). 

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said, “Investment in renewables delivers cheaper and cleaner energy, which are fundamental to creating more Queensland jobs and are a key component of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery. 

“The work program will include building the Tumoulin switching station near Ravenshoe, almost 1,000m above sea level, making it the highest-situated infrastructure of its type in the state.

“The project will help harness our abundant wind resources and transport Kaban wind farm’s 157MW output across North Queensland.

“It builds on our $40 million investment announced by the premier in May to upgrade the transmission line between Cairns and Townsville from 132kV to 275kV.

“This project is indicative of the international investment pipeline that is supported by our clear commitment to reaching 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“But most importantly, it is the next step in a $700 million program of upgrades to the North Queensland network that Powerlink will carry out over the next five years.”

Mr de Brenni said that the upgrades will open Far North Queensland to new investment and enable additional capacity for solar and wind in the Northern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone.

“Having a diverse energy mix means more reliable power, ensuring that our state can continue to expand its manufacturing base and deliver more secure jobs for Queenslanders,” Mr de Brenni said. 

CleanCo has signed a Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA) for Kaban, agreeing to buy 100 per cent of the wind farm’s renewable energy from the green power hub, and taking control of dispatch.

The project is underpinned by a 15-year capacity purchase agreement (CPA) with CleanCo, Queensland’s publicly owned clean energy company, for 100 per cent of the energy generated. 

Neoen Australia Managing Director, Louis de Sambucy, said, “We are proud of the pivotal role the Kaban Green Power Hub is playing in establishing the Northern Queensland REZ and look forward to the project contributing to Queensland’s energy transition and to supporting the region’s recovery from COVID-19.”

Construction of the Tumoulin switching station is expected to be complete by April 2022, requiring erection of three 80m towers traversing and then connecting to the existing 275kV transmission network.

Once completed the hub will generate 457GWh of affordable clean energy each year, enough to power some 100,000 Queensland homes; more than enough for every home in Cairns. 

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