PROJECT STALLS: The proposed site of the solar farm at the Baralaba sub sub-station.
PROJECT STALLS: The proposed site of the solar farm at the Baralaba sub sub-station. Contributed

Solar farm still on cards

THE proposed solar farm at Baralaba is still on the cards according to developers, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FTW).

The proposed solar farm is projected to power 40,880 houses annually, costing $240 million dollars to build and creating 200 construction jobs.

The solar farm was approved in 2015 and a spokesperson from FRV said they are still finalising details.

"We have a few more activities we need to complete on the development side and we need to finalise the grid connection arrangements,” a spokesperson said.

"All that just takes a bit of time.”

With no funding locked in place, FRV said they aren't up to the financial side just yet.

"Once those activities are completed, we will look to make a financial decision,” a spokesperson said.

Local residents still have nothing to be excited about just yet as it will still be some time before construction begins.

"We anticipate we will need the rest of this year to finalise everything and next year we will look at financials,” a spokesperson said.

FRV said they will be employing an Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor who will make the final decision on the workforce.

"What we do intend to do is appoint a local workforce with fencers and some civil work,” a spokesperson said.

"It does make more sense to use a local workforce but it will be up to the contractor.”

FRV assured they would remain in contact with the local community with updates of the solar farm progress.

"We're in the middle of building a 100 megawatt facility in the Clare region at the moment so we are really aware of community engagement,” a spokesperson said.

"We won't be doing it on the quiet and we will definitely be informing local council and local residents on what is happening.”

Banana Shire Council director council services, John McDougall, says the council is in irregular contact with FRV through their consultants.

"Council approved a solar farm over a 688hectare lot off the Baralaba Rannes Road, Kokotungo for FRV Services in October 2015,” he said.

"In January 2016 the company indicated that it was considering making an application to stage the development as the Federal Government had cut the Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding.

"At the time a council planning officer indicated to the company that if such an application were made it would be recommended to Council that the proposed staging be supported.”

The project was successfully approved in 2015 with no progress of the solar farm started to date.

Mr McDougall assures the project will still go ahead.

"The development approval was granted for 10 years, this is the relevant period in which to commence to use,” he said.

"This was a request from the applicant at the time.

"This request was largely due to current uncertainty of market conditions surrounding the demand for the solar energy, at the time.

"The company has another proposed solar farm at Clare and that development is their first priority.”

Mr McDougall said the project will bring great opportunities to the region.

"Solar is one of the federal governments identified alternative energy sources which has shown promise,” he said.

"The solar farm will greatly benefit the local economy through the creation of up to 200 jobs during the construction phase and up to five permanent positions during the operational phase.

"This development is expected to be beneficial to the local community with providing indirect opportunities to a range of local businesses, contractors and suppliers.”