A new 200MW solar farm has been officially launched in Queensland’s Western Downs by global renewable energy company X-ELIO.
The farm is expected to deliver 420GWh of green energy annually, offsetting more than 320,000t of CO2 emissions and powering 80,000 homes across the state. Four hundred local jobs were created during the solar farm’s two-year construction, with the project delivering a more than $200 million investment in the state of Queensland.
The Blue Grass Solar Farm leverages advanced technology including 375,000 bifacial solar panels and half-cut cells, enhancing performance and efficiency to help decrease the cost of solar and support Australia’s 2050 net zero ambitions.
X-ELIO CEO, Lluis Noguera, said Australia was a key target market for the company’s renewable undertakings.
“Australia is a key strategic market for X-ELIO and our Blue Grass Solar Farm will spearhead our continued expansion along Australia’s East Coast, with additional projects planned for New South Wales and Victoria,” Mr Noguera said.
The project’s construction and grid connection was supported by first-tier renewable and transmission specialists, including Gransolar Group (GRS), Ingeteam and Powerlink.
The project also received financial backing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), ING, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and has established long-term support from first-tier offtakers Salesforce, Stanwell Corporation and Australia’s only 1.5°C electricity retailer, ZEN Energy.
Blue Grass was first identified using Salesforce’s renewable energy procurement matrix, an assessment tool that scores a project based on its environmental, cultural and social impacts.
According to Salesforce, the Blue Grass project performed exceptionally well in the following matrix categories:
High avoided emissions: Blue Grass has the highest avoided emissions rate of any project in Salesforce’s portfolio, over two times that of a comparable project in California
Land use: Blue Grass is sited on land with low ecological value, avoiding sensitive vegetation and wildlife habitats
Community engagement: In addition to creating hundreds of jobs, X-ELIO is dedicating a percentage of the annual gross income of the project to a Community Support and Benefit Sharing Program, which will support local community projects
Salesforce’s ANZ and ASEAN CEO, Pip Marlow, said supporting renewable projects was a key priority for the company’s vision of a net zero world.
“Salesforce has net zero residual emissions and reached 100 per cent renewable energy for its global operations in 2021. Projects like Blue Grass Solar Farm are critical to our vision for a net zero world,” Ms Marlow said.
“We selected the Blue Grass project based on its community support program, the low ecological value of the site, and the high potential to significantly reduce emissions. Congratulations to the team at X-ELIO for delivering Blue Grass, an important source of renewable energy for Queensland.”
CEFC Executive Director, Monique Miller, expressed her congratulations for the X-ELIO project, which she said would contribute to the increased proliferation of renewable alternatives in the energy market.
“The CEFC congratulates X-ELIO on the official opening of Blue Grass Solar Farm. One of the most effective ways to accelerate Australia’s transition to net zero emissions is to fortify the renewable energy sector and increase our clean energy generation. X-ELIO’s work with the community also helps improve the sector’s understanding about the importance of local collaboration and we look forward to learning more about their support for these important and diverse community initiatives,” Ms Miller said.
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