By HARRY CLARKE

A SPANISH-owned solar farm on Queensland’s Western Downs is nearing completion, driven to its “financial close” thanks in part to a $37 million capital injection from the Federal Government.

The $200 million, 200MW Blue Grass Solar Farm, located 14km west of Chinchilla, will produce 420GW of green energy annually (enough to power 80,000 homes) by the time it’s in full operation at the end of March.

Madrid-based owner X-ELIO announced that the project’s successful “financial close” followed a number of significant milestones, including a landmark virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Salesforce.

The Blue Grass Solar Farm comprises 370,000 panels

The Blue Grass project is backed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, ING, and SMBC, and was this month announced the recipient of a $37 million grant under the Morrison Government’s Low Emissions Technology Statement.

“We are taking the ideology out of the debate and putting back common sense solutions so the prices (of electricity) come down, jobs are created and Australia meets its commitments,” said local MP David Littleproud, who visited the 500 hectare Blue Grass site.

Blue Grass Solar Farm site manager Chris Doherty with Maranoa MP David Littleproud

The Blue Grass Solar Farm employed 400 workers during the height of construction.

Gransolar (GRS) was appointed as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. Powerlink is the transmission network provider.

The facility is expected to offset about 320,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year in support of the Queensland Government’s commitment to generating 50% of its electricity needs from renewables by 2030.

Belinda Fan, X-ELIO’s Country Manager in Australia, said: “We’re thrilled to have achieved financial close for the Blue Grass Solar Farm – our largest solar project in Australia and one that strengthens our position in the domestic renewables market where we continue to pursue new growth opportunities.”

“This includes more than 600 MW of projects in our development pipeline which is growing exponentially each year.”

X-ELIO is a global business with a local mindset, and we are committed to enhancing economic and social outcomes in the local communities and regions where we operate.”

Blue Grass Solar Farm will soon be producing enough electricity to power 80,000 homes annually
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