X-Elio has flicked the switch on is first major project in Australia and its largest to date with the Spain-based solar developer confirming that the 200 MW Blue Grass Solar Farm established near the town of Chinchilla on Queensland’s Western Downs is now online.
Belinda Fan, X-Elio’s country manager in Australia, said the completion of the project strengthens the company’s position in the Australian market and supports the state government’s recently announced renewable energy targets to generate 70% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2032, and 80% by 2035.
“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,” she said. “We’d like to think of this project as a small but important step in the state’s march to net zero.”
The 200 MW solar plant, located 14 kilometres west of Chinchilla in the planned Darling Downs Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), is expected to deliver an estimated 420 GWh of 100% renewable energy annually, enough to power 80,000 homes and offsetting approximately 320,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The electricity generated at the facility will be supplied to the national electricity market (NEM) through the existing 132 kV Chinchilla to Columboola transmission line, which is operated by Queensland’s transmission network provider Powerlink.
The project is supported by power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Queensland government-owned energy generator Stanwell, Australian electricity retailer ZEN Energy, and United States-based software company Salesforce.
Stanwell has signed an agreement with X-Elio for 49 MW offtake from the Blue Grass solar farm while Salesforce has signed an agreement for 25% of the output of the facility, more than enough renewable energy to match its electricity use for its entire Australian operations.
The PPA is Salesforce’s first international renewable energy offtake agreement and Salesforce Australia and New Zealand CEO Pip Marlow said the launch of the Blue Grass Solar Farm is a milestone moment in the company’s sustainability journey,
“Salesforce has net-zero residual emissions and reached 100% renewable energy for its global operations in 2021,” she said, adding “projects like Blue Grass Solar Farm are critical to our vision for a net-zero world.”
Marlow congratulated X-Elio for delivering Blue Grass, saying it is “an important renewable energy source for Queensland” and that “every step closer to a future where renewable energy is powering the world is worth celebrating.”
X-Elio Chief Executive Officer Lluis Noguera said the Blue Grass Solar Farm marks the opening phase of the company’s long-term interest in the Australian market where it continues to pursue new growth opportunities.
“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 New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria,” he said.
X-Elio has announced plans to build a 300 MW solar farm and battery energy storage system near Wagga Wagga in southwest NSW. The 120 MW Forest Glen and 80 MW Wunghnu solar farms in NSW and Victoria respectively are also part of the more than 500 MW of projects X-Elio has in development in Australia.