Gladstone could be home to three solar farms by the end of next year, at Aldoga, Yarwun and Rodds Bay.
Gladstone could be home to three solar farms by the end of next year, at Aldoga, Yarwun and Rodds Bay. Tegan Annett

$400m solar farms to lower power prices, create local jobs

AUSTRALIAN company Renew Estate has chosen Gladstone as its next investment, with a proposed 300MW Rodds Bay solar farm and 32MW Yarwun solar farm.

Director Toby Roxburgh told The Observer on Thursday the $400 million projects would drive down electricity prices for Gladstone businesses and residents and inject a 12-month boost of construction work this year.

Building the Rodds Bay project would need about 300 workers and Yarwun would need about 200.

Once buildt, about 20 people would be required to operate each plant.

The development application lodged with Gladstone Regional Council yesterday outlined its plans to be pumping electricity into the grid by the second quarter of next year.

Mr Roxburgh was one of several Renew Estate directors who travelled from around Australia to Gladstone this week for the company's first information session.

Cementing its commitment to Gladstone, the company told a crowd of about 50 the solar projects were just the beginning of their investment in the Port City.

He said the company was in talks with Gladstone Power Station to receive power from the coal-fired power plant when the sun isn't shining to ensure the solar farms can operate 24 hours a day.

The company also met with Rio Tinto-owned aluminium projects and Orica Yarwun to discuss potential electricity deals and ways they can collaborate.

Also on the agenda is the global transition to hydrogen energy, with interest in potentially using Orica Yarwun's ammonia to create it.

When asked why the company chose Gladstone to produce 330MW of power, Mr Roxburgh responded "Why not?"

"Gladstone has the skilled workforce, it has the electricity need and it has the land," he said.

"These plans have been about 12 months in the making, there's no mucking around and this has happened quite quickly."

Mr Roxburgh said with another solar project expected to be announced by the end of the year, Gladstone could become the state's solar capital.

Engagement and culture director Rosie King said the business wanted to create a lasting legacy of "doing good" for Gladstone's community and jobs for years to come.

"In addition to lowering power prices and offering local jobs, we're working with TAFE and CQUniversity to talk about how we can be involved in courses and to local schools about potential scholarships," she said.

She said a minimum requirement of local trades would be built into contracts for businesses involved in the construction and operation of the two plants.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher promised this week's announcement was just the beginning for Gladstone's resurgence as a renewable energy hub.

Mr Butcher said the State Government was in the "final throes" of deciding the successful applicant to build a renewable project at Aldoga within the region's State Development Area.

He hoped the successful business would be announced by April.