The Blue Grass solar farm in Queensland, Australia, is being developed by Spanish renewable energy producer X-ELIO. The 200MW solar facility will produce 420GWh of green electricity a year, sufficient to power approximately 80,000 Queensland homes, once fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The power plant will offset more than 320,000t of CO₂ emissions a year, which is equivalent to planting more than five million trees or offsetting the emissions generated by 130,000 vehicles.
X-ELIO is investing more than $200m in the Blue Grass utility-scale solar project with the support of state and local governments.
The construction commenced in December 2020, with on-ground construction works expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021.
The project is expected to create up to 400 local jobs throughout the construction, operation, and maintenance phases. It will also help the Queensland Government in achieving its 50% renewable energy generation by 2030 plan.
Blue Grass solar farm location
The Blue Grass solar farm project site is located 14km away from Chinchilla in the Western Downs regional council area of Queensland.
The site is considered optimal for the development of solar power with minimal disruption to the community, agriculture, and environment.
The location also offers direct grid access and suitable terrain conditions for solar power generation.
Blue Grass solar farm details
The Blue Grass solar farm will feature 385,000 photovoltaic (PV) modules to produce approximately 420GWh annually.
The electricity generated at the facility will be supplied to the national electricity market through an existing 132kV Chinchilla to Columboola transmission line network in the Western Downs, which is operated by Queensland’s transmission network provider Powerlink. A new substation is proposed to be constructed at Cameby to connect the solar farm with the transmission network.
Power purchase agreement
In October 2020, Salesforce, a US-based software company, signed a ten-year virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with X-ELIO to purchase generation certificates from the Blue Grass solar farm to meet renewable energy requirements for its Australia and New Zealand branches.
The VPPA is estimated to offset 80,000t of CO₂ emissions annually over the life of the agreement.
It is Salesforce’s first renewable energy offtake agreement in Australia and supports the company’s commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2022.
X-ELIO in Australia
X-ELIO is a global utility-scale solar developer jointly owned by Brookfield and KKR. The Blue Grass solar project forms a part of the company’s planned expansion along the Australian East Coast.
In addition to the Blue Grass solar farm, X-ELIO is developing additional utility-scale PV projects, including the Forest Glen project in New South Wales and the Wunghnu project in Victoria. Both projects are expected to begin construction within the next 18 months.
The company has strategic plans to expand its portfolio in the renewables market of Australia, with 400MW currently under development. The Blue Grass solar farm emphasises the company’s long-term interests in the Australian region.
The company also has 5GW of capacity in the pipeline with more than 600MW in Australia. It built more than 2GW of solar power projects and operates 25 plants across ten countries globally.
X-ELIO designed and managed the construction of more than 78 solar plants across 12 nations. It owns a photovoltaic portfolio across the US, Australia, Japan, Italy, Spain, the Middle East, South Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia.
Gransolar Group (GRS), a Spanish solar engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor, was awarded the EPC contract for the project.
Powerlink will supply the new grid connection assets associated with the project.