SYDNEY, AAP – Businessman Andrew Forrest has made a major play in the renewable energy sector with a $3 billion investment promising power for more than 650,000 homes.
The wind, solar and battery farm in central Queensland is touted as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
The move will see Dr Forrest’s Squadron Energy acquire the Clarke Creek renewables operation and start immediate work on expansion.
“We have commenced construction of what will be the largest renewable energy precinct in the southern hemisphere,” he said, noting that the scale of this project will soon be surpassed by others in the pipeline.
“We are investing in Clarke Creek not only to harness the renewable power of the wind and sun to energise our homes, our factories and our cities, but as a critical step towards breaking our reliance on fossil fuels.
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“Climate change is the single greatest threat to our existence, and we must meet this global challenge with tenacity and speed.”
Billionaire Dr Forrest – who made his fortune in mining – along with wife Nicola, have been vocal advocates of Australia’s need to strive for a zero-emissions energy future.
The precinct, northwest of Rockhampton, will feed supply into the grid and eventually generate enough power for about 660,000 homes.
The first stage of construction is due to be operational by 2024, with a subsequent stage online by 2026. All necessary development approvals have already been secured, Squadron confirmed.
“Both will make … a big impact on Queensland’s march to be a world green energy superpower,” Dr Forrest said.
Queensland’s Labor government has set a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
The investment announcement comes after fellow Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes led a bid to acquire AGL Energy and shift the nation’s largest electricity generator from coal to renewable sources by 2030.
AGL rejected the offer, which equated to about $8 billion, but Mr Cannon-Brookes said efforts to acquire the business were not over.