30 October 2019
Pacific Hydro staff, project neighbours, key contractors and partners, local community and indigenous groups, and Burdekin Shire Council officials recently gathered at Haughton Solar Farm to celebrate the official opening of the first 100MW stage of the project.
The large scale solar farm, which received planning approval in June 2017, achieved grid connection and began generating at full capacity this past August. The opening event provided an opportunity to celebrate the first stage of the project achieving full generation and gave locals a chance to tour the site firsthand.
“Reaching full generation at our first solar farm was truly a team effort,” said Pacific Hydro Australia CEO Rachel Watson. “It only seemed right to invite all of the partners, community members and local government officials who made the project possible as we celebrate this milestone.”
The more than 1400 acre site includes nearly 400,000 individual solar panels generating enough electricity to power 58,000 homes annually. More than 200 jobs were created during construction along with three permanent positions to operate and maintain the facility.
These numbers are expected to grow as future stages of the farm are built. After making a submission to the Queensland Government’s Renewables 400 reverse auction earlier this year, Pacific Hydro will compete against nine other shortlisted projects to secure a contract with publicly-owned generator CleanCo.
If selected in the next phase of the auction, Pacific Hydro would deliver an additional 100MW of clean energy capacity along with battery storage at Haughton Solar Farm.
“It’s an exciting time for Pacific Hydro as we plan future stages of the project,” said Ms. Watson. “We’re confident in our proposal and in our recent success delivering large-scale solar in north Queensland.”
In addition to celebrating the solar farm opening, Pacific Hydro also recognised eight local groups for their successful community grant applications to the Haughton Sustainable Communities Fund. The new grant program will share a portion of revenue from Haughton Solar Farm each year.
Local groups and not-for-profit organisations serving the communities of Ayr, Brandon, Clare, Dalbeg, Giru, Home Hill and Millaroo had the opportunity to apply for grant funding in September from a pool of $50,000.00. Sixteen applications totalling $126,000 in requests were received.
All eligible applications were reviewed by an independent panel comprised of local community members, Burdekin Shire Council staff and Pacific Hydro officials. The panel process empowers locals to have a say in how funds are allocated.
The successful projects this year include:
- Burdekin Art Society – Solar panels
- Burdekin Junior Rugby League Football Club – Shaded seating for spectators
- Burdekin Men’s Shed Association – Fume collector for health and safety
- Burdekin Special School P&C – Sensory community garden and water storage
- Burdekin Touch Football – Line marking equipment
- Clare State School – School speaker system
- Giru Daycare Association – Playground structure
- Home Hill Tennis Association – Pressure cleaner for tennis courts
Over the life of the solar farm, Pacific Hydro will directly invest more than $2.5 million into the region. The Sustainable Communities Fund is the key pillar of Pacific Hydro’s Community Investment Program. Since 2005, the Program has provided more than $3.7 million to over 800 projects in our host communities across Australia.
About Pacific Hydro
Pacific Hydro is a global renewable energy owner, operator and developer. It operates a high quality, diversified portfolio with an installed capacity of 1 GW+ across Australia, Chile and Brazil. Pacific Hydro is also developing new projects totalling over 2 GW of potential capacity; and has a growing electricity retail business in Australia, Tango Energy.
Haughton Solar Farm is a 100MW large-scale photovoltaic power station located 40 kilometres west of Ayr in North Queensland’s Burdekin Shire. Once all stages are complete, Haughton Solar Farm is expected to have a generating capacity of up to 500MW, enough to power approximately 291,000 homes.
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