Iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest has announced a AUD 3 billion ($2.2 billion) investment in a 1.2GW hybrid wind, solar and battery energy storage project in Queensland, Australia.

From pv magazine Australia

Australian businessman Andrew Forrest confirmed on Sunday that his privately owned Squadron Energy has acquired the two-stage Clarke Creek wind, solar PV and battery development in central Queensland, Australia. He said that contracts have already been issued for the immediate start of construction of the first 450MW wind stage of the renewable energy project.

Squadron Energy said the proposed 1.2GW Clarke Creek wind and solar farm, which is being developed about 150 kilometers northwest of Rockhampton, will be the largest renewable energy precinct in the southern hemisphere upon completion. It said the project will produce enough wind, solar and battery energy to power more than 660,000 Queensland households and will export lower-cost electricity directly into the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Forrest said the acquisition marks a landmark moment for Australia’s green energy future.

“We have commenced construction of what will be the largest renewable energy precinct in the southern hemisphere – but I am delighted to say that we will not hold this record for long, with other renewable energy projects under development that will surpass our project in scale,” he said. “We intend to bring on other projects which will be larger than today’s record.”

The Clarke Creek project, originally developed by Lacour Energy and Goldwind, includes an 800MW wind farm, up to 400MW of solar installations, and an unspecified battery energy storage facility. There have been reports that Squadron Energy is looking to install up to 2GWh of battery storage at the site.

With grid connection, long-term supply agreements and all necessary state and federal approvals for Clarke Creek already in place, Squadron Energy said it will now accelerate the start of construction, with stage one set to be fully operational in 2024. The company said stage two could go online in 2026.

“Due to its combination of solar, wind and battery technologies, it will help directly lower power prices for millions of Queensland households and businesses,” Squadron Energy said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the commitment from Squadron Energy. She said the project would generate jobs and help the government achieve its renewable energy ambitions.

“Delivering such a huge renewable energy boost takes Queensland closer to achieving our targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050,” she said.

Forrest said development approval for the project was secured in May 2018, followed by federal environmental approval in November 2018 and grid-connection approval earlier this year. A supply deal for most of the output of the first stage has also been secured.

In August 2020, government-owned Stanwell Corp. and the state government announced a 346.5MW power purchase agreement for the 450MW first stage of the Clarke Creek Wind Farm as part of a 15-year commitment to the project.