A UK investment group has become the majority stakeholder of the proposed $350 million Rodds Bay Solar Farm in Gladstone, Queensland.
United Green has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake from the current project owner, Renew Estate, representing a significant milestone for the project.
The 300MW Rodds Bay Solar Farm will be located 50km south of Gladstone, and would create more than 300 construction jobs.
If the project proceeds, it is expected to boost Queensland’s 6,600MW of operational and committed renewable energy generation capacity, which would make it one of Australia’s largest renewables projects.
The project currently has planning approval for an integrated storage facility. It will connect to Queensland’s 275kV transmission network between Bororen and Rodds Bay.
Simon Corbell, Chief Adviser from Renew Estate joint venture partner Energy Estate, said 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,” Mr Corbell said.
“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.”
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.
Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the equity investment from United Green represented a vote of confidence in the state’s renewables sector and economic recovery.
“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,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Queensland Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing, Glenn Butcher, said this buy-in marked United Green’s first entry into the Australian energy market.
“They’ll add Rodds Bay to an impressive portfolio of utility-scale wind and solar developments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” Mr Butcher 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 the Queensland Government’s commitment of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 has created a pipeline of investment for the sector.
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,” Mr Dwyer 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.”
Mr Dwyer said Renew Estate had worked closely with Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) to secure the investment, and was 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, said, the strength of support for this project from the Queensland Government, the local community, local businesses and other stakeholders gave the company great confidence in taking this project forward to construction, and marked Renew Estate as one of Australia’s leading renewable energy developers.