What is set to be Australia’s largest wind farm will provide only 20 full-time jobs once it goes into operation next year.
Construction started yesterday on AGL’s $850 million Coopers Gap wind farm at Cooranga North, 250km west of Brisbane, 10 years after it was proposed. The state government, which is committed to a 50-50 split between renewable energy and fossil fuel energy production by 2030, has endorsed the project, with Energy Minister Anthony Lynham turning the first sod.
Two hundred jobs will be created during construction of the 123-turbine, 453 megawatt facility, which will provide enough power for 260,000 homes.
Dr Lynham said the project was the second large-scale renewable project under way in the region that would help achieve the renewable energy target.
“The Western Downs is fast becoming Australia’s renewable energy capital, with Coopers Gap and 10 approved solar projects,” Dr Lynham said. “Together, they represent more than 2000 megawatts of renewable energy that will help power Queensland’s electricity grid and its regional economies, and help us meet our international emissions reduction commitments.
“Combined, these projects would represent more than $5 billion of investment, and more than 3000 construction jobs for the Western Downs.”
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington welcomed construction of the wind farm, which is in her Nanango electorate, but raised concerns about the long-term job prospects from renewable energy projects.
“Renewables are a welcome part of the energy mix but they don’t sustain long-term jobs or provide baseload power,” she said.
“We support a sensible energy mix that delivers cheaper electricity and more energy security.”
Ms Frecklington noted a difference in the approach to Adani’s Carmichael coalmine — which has already created 800 jobs, according to the company — and the wind farm.
“It is obvious that the government is only prepared to support green jobs ahead of other Queenslanders,” she said of Labor criticism of Adani.
During the election campaign in November, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk spruiked her clean energy policy at the under-construction Clare Valley Solar Farm in north Queensland — a project that will employ up to 350 people during construction, but offer only five to 10 jobs once operational.