Wind turbines at the Windy Hill wind farm near Ravenshoe, Far North Queensland. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.
Wind turbines at the Windy Hill wind farm near Ravenshoe, Far North Queensland. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.

Controversial new wind farm approved for regional CQ

A $350 MILLION wind farm in Central Queensland has been given the go-ahead despite locals strongly opposing its construction.

The 50-turbine Banana Range wind farm, 20km west of Biloela, promises to create 150 construction jobs when construction begins in 2020 and 15 jobs when it is finished.

In September, locals affected by the wind farm started a petition saying it was too close to residential homes and properties, would provide few long-term jobs, would produce little power and would threaten major industries in the region that could lead to job losses.

The project will be ­undertaken by Orange Creek Energy Pty Ltd, a subsidiary renewable energy company of Brisbane’s Lacour Energy.

Most of the farm’s energy would be produced overnight due to the strong overnight winds in the area

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Planning Minister Cameron Dick said the farm would boost the state’s wind generation capacity to 2240 megawatts, enough to power more than one million homes.

“The Banana Range wind farm will generate around 180 megawatts at capacity, which will power around 120,000 homes,” Mr Dick said.

Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the project added to the state’s numerous renewable energy projects, placing further downward pressure on electricity prices and taking Queensland closer to its renewable target of 50 per cent by 2030.

“Queensland has more than 2370 megawatts of large-scale renewable energy capacity operating already and another 250 committed or under construction,” Dr Lynham said.

“Around 18,000 megawatts more of large-scale renewable capacity is currently at earlier stages of development.

The location of the $350 million Banana Range Wind Farm.
The location of the $350 million Banana Range Wind Farm.

“Together, these projects represent more than $5 billion in capital investment and more than 4500 construction jobs in regional Queensland.”

Lacour Energy director James Townsend said the farm was in an area of excellent wind resources, with an high voltage 132-kilovolt transmission line running through the project site, which would connect the farm to the power network.

“The onsite powerline and excellent wind resource mean that the project can supply competitively priced electricity,” Mr Townsend said.

“The area is known for its strong night-time winds which is when the wind farm will produce the most energy.

“This means the project is very complementary to the daytime energy from rooftop solar and the solar farms that have recently been built in Queensland.

“We estimate there will be an injection of $30-40 million into the regional economy during the construction through the employment of local contractors and service providers.”

Mr Townsend also said the company would provide $100,000 each year to support projects or initiatives locally through a community benefits fund.

It is estimated the farm will take two years to build.