16 November 2022. Leading global renewable and sustainable energy provider X-ELIO today celebrates the launch of its Blue Grass Solar Farm, located in Queensland’s Western Downs, 14km from Chinchilla. The official ribbon-cutting event will be attended by key project partners, local council and community members, and other industry representatives.
The 200MW solar farm is one of Queensland’s 50 large-scale renewable projects and will help support the State Government’s Renewable Energy Target (QRET) to generate 70% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2032, and 80% by 2035, which was recently announced as part of The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.
The farm is expected to deliver 420 GWh green energy annually, offsetting more than 320,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and powering 80,000 home 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.
The project’s construction and grid connection was supported by first-tier renewable and transmission specialists, including Gransolar Group (GRS), Ingeteam and Powerlink. It 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 ℃ electricity retailer, ZEN Energy.
Four local community initiatives will also be awarded with funding at the event from the Blue Grass Community Support and Benefit Sharing Fund, which allocates a percentage of the project’s income to local community projects.
Recipients of the funding include the Resourcing Country District Instrumental Music Program, which will provide musical instruments to students of over 400 schools throughout the region, the Friends of Illoura Village which will purchase an accessible bus to transport the elderly and disabled around the local community, the Western Downs Emergency Services Unit which will establish a Mobile Emergency Operations Centre trailer “Ruby” to support future SES operations in remote locations, and a Local Parents Association which will oversee the fencing of a local park located next to the Warrego Highway.
Councillor Paul McVeigh, Mayor of Western Downs, said: “The region is proud to be widely recognised as the ‘Energy Capital of Queensland’ and that Council is committed to working with energy companies and developers who demonstrate their commitment to the region and the growth of the community and local economy.”
“It’s very exciting to see the Blue Grass Solar Farm reaching this milestone, and we look forward to its future operation in the heart of our region further contributing to the exciting and rapidly expanding energy mix within the Western Downs.”
Belinda Fan, X-ELIO’s Country Manager in Australia, said: “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the official opening of the Blue Grass Solar Farm – X-ELIO’s first solar project in Australia. The completion of this project reflects the dedication and ingenuity of our local team, as well as the ongoing support of our esteemed partners and the broader Western Downs community.”
“We’re proud that the Blue Grass Solar Farm is among Queensland’s 50 large-scale renewable projects, coming online at an opportune time to help support the state Government’s clean energy ambitions. We’d like to think of this project as a small but important step in the State’s march to net zero.”
“It’s also incredibly gratifying to be able to use this occasion to recognise local community initiatives with funding from our Community Support and Benefit Sharing Fund, which demonstrates X-ELIO’s commitment to supporting the socio-economic development of the communities in which we operate around the world.”
Lluis Noguera, CEO of X-ELIO, said: “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 NSW and VIC.”
Michael O’Rourke, CEO of Stanwell Corporation, said: “Stanwell’s offtake agreement with Blue Grass Solar Farm will enable us to provide clean, renewable energy to our customers, who are increasingly seeking clean energy solutions to meet their own decarbonisation requirements.”
Monique Miller, Executive Director of CEFC, said: “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.
Pip Marlow, CEO of ANZ and ASEAN at Salesforce, said: “Salesforce has net zero residual emissions and reached 100% renewable energy for its global operations in 2021. Projects like Blue Grass Solar Farm are critical to our vision for a net zero world. 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.”
Sam Terko, Head of Energy at ING Australia, said “We are delighted to be celebrating the official launch of the Blue Grass Solar Farm and are proud to have supported X-ELIO with their first investment in Australia, which further reinforces our institutions’ strong and global relationship. ING Bank is committed to the Australian energy sector and to helping our clients realise their growth ambitions in clean energy generation. The Blue Grass transaction aligns with our objective to support the decarbonisation of the Australian power sector and further adds to our predominantly renewables portfolio here in Australia.”
Anthony Garnaut, CEO of ZEN Energy, said: “ZEN Energy is very pleased to be working with X ELIO to grow our renewable energy portfolio. Getting more renewable assets online is key to our role in accelerating Australia’s path through the energy transition and beyond. X-ELIO’s open and engaging approach to the communities where they operate demonstrates the people-centred approach that we hope to find in our partners.”
X-ELIO specializes in the development, construction, financing, and operation of renewable and sustainable energy projects with a global presence in Europe, the United States, Latin America, Japan, and Australia. The firm has 17 years of experience with more than 2.6 GW constructed. The group is a world leader in the development of renewable and sustainable energy, with a strong commitment to greenhouse gas reduction and the fight against climate change.
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