THE number of jobs expected to be created during construction of Australia’s largest solar farm has been significantly increased to as many as 800, the Caller can reveal.
Construction of the 400MW so-called Western Downs Green Power Hub, being built 20km south east of Chinchilla, is slated to begin in October.
Early surveying works at the mammoth 1500ha solar farm site off Kogan-Condamine Rd have been underway since July.
Neoen, the French renewable energy giant developing the project, is also behind the world’s largest battery – the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, operated by Elon Musk’s company Tesla.
With a construction cost of $540m, the Western Downs Green Power Hub will be able to produce 1,031,400 MWh annually, which is enough to power more than 220,000 homes.
Initial projections indicated up to 400 people would be employed throughout the solar farm’s 18-month construction period but that figure has now doubled.
Neoen spokesperson Lisa Stiebel told the Caller the company had set goals of employing 20 percent local, 10 percent cadet and trainee staff and 10 percent indigenous workers.
“We’re really excited to be working in partnership with our EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor Sterling & Wilson and their subcontractors to deliver and hopefully go beyond these important participation targets,” Ms Stiebel said.
“As Australia’s largest solar farm, this project brings many opportunities to the area and we’re keen to involve and share the benefits with local jobseekers and suppliers.”
By the time the project has been constructed in 2022, the solar farm’s workforce will have reduced significantly to only 7-10.
EPC contractor Sterling & Wilson, an Indian renewables developer, will be sourcing an array of construction supplies and electrical, civil and mechanical subcontractors.
Prospective local contractors were told at a seminar held in Chinchilla this week that the vast majority of workers would be unskilled labourers, while in excess of 100 electricians will be required during peak construction.
The Western Downs Green Power Hub will comprise a staggering 1 million individual solar panels. A Sterling and Wilson spokesperson told the seminar the company had the capacity to install 10,000 panels per day.