The promise of more than 300 new construction jobs in the Gladstone region took a significant step forward this week when UK investment group United Green committed to a major investment in the $350 million Rodds Bay Solar Farm.
United Green has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake from the current project owner, Renew Estate.
Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk said the solar farm, 50km south of Gladstone, would be one of Australia’s largest renewables projects.
‘The equity investment from United Green is a vote of confidence in Queensland’s renewables sector and Queensland’s economic recovery,’ the Premier said.
‘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.’
Rodds Bay will be United Green’s first entry into the Australian energy market, adding to an impressive portfolio of utility-scale wind and solar developments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
United Green Chief Investment Officer Tim Mole welcomed the move.
‘We are delighted to be announcing our first project in Australia, in such a dynamic part of Central Queensland,’ he said.
‘The strength of support for this project from the Queensland Government, the local community, local businesses and other stakeholders gives us great confidence in taking this project forward to construction and marks Renew Estate as one of Australia’s leading renewable energy developers.
‘We look forward to engaging with local businesses over coming months.’
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,’ he 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 welcomed the support provided by TIQ in securing United Green’s involvement.
‘We worked closely with Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) to secure the investment, and we are very grateful to TIQ for their introductions and support,’ he said.
‘We’re also continuing to work closely with them to connect into local supply chains as part of delivering jobs and regional economic development.’
Rodds Bay Solar Farm is the latest project for Renew Estate, which is a joint venture between Australian companies Energy Estate and 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).
Rodds Bay secured its notice to proceed earlier this year, and early works on the project are due to commence in coming months. Renew Estate will continue to be a shareholder.
Renewables are identified as a growing export market in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022, and Queensland’s renewables projects have attracted significant international investment, including the recently announced MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct near Warwick.
The Queensland Government has committed to a target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.