Solar power comes to Townsville

A DISUSED mango plantation Ross River in Queensland could be the site of a new 135 megawatt solar farm, potentially one of the largest in Australia.

Haydn Black

Developer Esco Pacific has received planning consent for the development the project from the Townsville City Council.

“This is a fantastic outcome for the Townsville region. In addition to the considerable benefits of renewable energy generation, the project will create jobs and help develop the necessary skills in what is proving to be a growth industry for the region,” Esco managing director and founder Steve Rademaker said.

“The Townsville City Council has shown great vision in seeing the considerable opportunity and benefits associated with utility scale solar. We have worked closely with the council and the local community to address the limited number of concerns raised by local residents.

“We are pleased with the final outcome which includes conditions to mitigate and protect visual amenity.

“Ross River is the first of a number of similar projects that we intend to develop over the coming years.”

Townsville was selected as the ideal location for the solar farm because of the high solar irradiance in the region, and its average 320 days of sunshine annually.

The site is in close proximity to the grid connection point at the Ross Bulk Supply Substation and is free from environmental constraints.

The solar farm will cover an area of 202 hectares and will comprise 450,000 photovoltaic modules that will be installed on ground-mounted frames that will slowly track the daily horizontal movement of the sun.

When operational, the solar farm will generate renewable energy to meet the annual power needs of some 50,000 households.

The $250 million project is expected to take 12 months to build, with work to commence in early


Construction of the large-scale solar farm will create in excess of 150 construction jobs, and when operational, the facility will employ up to five full time and 10 part time positions.

Esco is working with Powerlink, the local transmission network operator, to secure a grid connection contract.

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