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by Lauren DeLorenzo, Journalist, Energy magazine

Despite its capacity to harness world-class solar and wind resources, Queensland still has the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. As the state shifts towards creating affordable renewable energy, Neoen’s Kaban Green Power Hub will be instrumental in meeting clean energy targets and supporting the state’s post-COVID economic recovery.

The $373 million investment came after global renewable energy producer Neoen signed a long-term power purchase agreement with CleanCo Queensland, the state’s publicly-owned clean energy company, in October 2020.

The aim of the agreement was to generate clean, affordable energy and strengthen the electricity network in Far North Queensland. The Kaban project, which involves a 157MW wind farm and a 320km transmission line upgrade, is planned to operate for at least 30 years.

The wind farm will use 28 Vestas V162-5.6MW wind turbines which have a hub height of 149m, and rotor diameter of 162m – the largest wind turbines to ever be used in the country.

Located around 80km southwest of Cairns, near the town of Ravenshoe in the Atherton Tableland, the site is ideal due to the region’s strong winds. The Kaban project will use that resource to generate approximately 457GWh of affordable clean energy each year – that’s enough to power every home in Cairns.

Kaban’s wind generation profile is complementary to the wind generated in the southern regions of the National Electricity Market, contributing to stronger supply during peak periods.

Community impact

The Kaban project is owned and operated by Neoen, a company which runs 14 wind, solar and battery storage projects across Australia.

Neoen said it is committed to sharing benefits of the project with neighbouring communities, and plans to develop a Community Benefit Fund of $50,000 for each year of the project, to support local initiatives.

Neoen said its commitment to providing community development and employment outcomes includes its consultations with the Jirrbal people, Traditional Owners of the land the project is located on.

Project partnerships

Neoen and Powerlink are partnering to improve the network’s system strength through upgrades to the line between Cairns and Townsville. The upgrades will allow for an additional capacity of 180MW by increasing the amount of energy available from other plants.

As for Neoen’s other partnerships, the Kaban project marks its second agreement with CleanCo after the 352MW power purchase agreement for Australia’s largest solar farm, the Western Downs Green Power Hub.

Neoen’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Xavier Barbaro, said, “We are delighted to be collaborating on this second project with CleanCo Queensland and I would like to thank them for once again putting their trust in us.

“The signing of this second power purchase agreement demonstrates Neoen’s ability to design competitive projects capacity and act as a long-term partner.”

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

Not only is the project expected to help hit renewable energy targets when it begins operations in 2023, but it will align with Queensland’s target to stabilise electricity prices for businesses and residents.

CleanCo Queensland’s CEO, Maia Schweizer, said, “We are proud to be involved in this new renewables development which will continue to improve electricity affordability for Queensland.

“Large energy users in Queensland are increasingly looking to power their businesses with affordable renewable energy, which gives us the confidence to continue to invest in projects like Kaban.

“CleanCo is pleased to continue supporting investment and jobs in Far North Queensland as we move closer to our target of supporting 1GW of new renewable generation by 2025 and maintain progress towards the target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.”

The Kaban project is the cornerstone of the QLD Government’s first renewable energy zone, the ‘North Queensland REZ’, for which
the government has committed $40 million

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