By HARRY CLARKE
THE 162MW Columboola Solar Farm outside Miles on Queensland’s Western Downs has begun commercial operations to provide 50 percent of electricity needs for one of the state’s leading universities.
Construction of the Columboola project began in early 2020 on 410ha (1,009 acres) of grazing country about 10km north east of Miles.
The solar farm was connected to the national energy grid in January this year. Reportedly to up 115MW are now being exported from the site.
The facility comprises more than 400,000 bifacial solar panels which are expected to produce 440GWh of renewable energy per year, or enough to power 75,000 homes for 35 years.
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor is Indian renewables giant Sterling & Wilson, which is also behind the mega Western Downs Green Power Hub being built nearby, east of Chinchilla.
Columboola Solar Farm’s owner, a South Korea-based investment manager by the name of Hana Financial Investment, has a 100 percent power purchasing agreement with Queensland Government owned generator CS Energy.
Under a tailored retail energy contract, CS Energy will provide 50 percent of Griffith University’s energy needs across all five of its campuses.
“Griffith uses about 60 million kilowatt hours annually, contributing to around 70 per cent of the university’s total carbon footprint,” said Griffith University COO Peter Bryant (pictured).
“This will help us be a more sustainable university by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we produce from electricity.
“It will also help us achieve our commitment of halving our 2010 emissions by 2030 and then to net zero emissions by 2050.
“Off-site renewable generation via long-term power purchase arrangements means we can source renewable power when on-site options are insufficient to meet our needs and also provide essential market support for investment in new renewable projects across the State.
“It’s a win-win for Griffith and the planet.”