Contracts have already been issued for the start of construction of an eventually massive renewable energy hub at Clarke Creek, north west of Rockhampton, that Forrest said would hasten the exit of coal from the energy market.
The project, however, is not new. Lacour gained its approvals for the project in 2018, but now it is under the control of Forrest’s Squadron Energy, which was promising to accelerate it and retrain power station workers.
“I would see that coal, as a future use of energy, particularly in Australia, will be either scaling out completely or fully scaled out by 2030,” Forrest told The Australian.
That would presumably also include the Queensland Government’s coal fired power stations, but the State Government has been largely silent on the announcement other than to endorse the project.
However, the Government is developing an energy plan which was expected to be completed this year and spell out the future of the coal-fired power sector.
Since the wave of renewables projects entered the market, coal has become increasingly uncompetitive.
Forrest was in Brisbane last Friday lauding the Queensland Government’s leadership in renewables at a function heavily attended by MPs and bureaucrats.
Forrest said the project would generate enough power to fuel 40 per cent of the state’s households and would be the largest renewables precinct in the southern hemisphere.
The Clarke Creek project would eventually consist of 1 gigawatt of wind power, 400 megawatts of solar and a massive 2 GW battery.
Stage one of the project would create about 350 jobs and Forrest claims would also inject about $100 million into the local economy. Previous announcements from the project were for completion of the $1.5 billion wind farm and its more than 100 first stage wind turbines by 2023. It has approval for 195 turbines and already has a 346-megawatt power-purchasing agreement from Stanwell.
Stage two would come online in 2026, Forrest said.
“We have commenced construction of what will be the largest renewable energy precinct in the southern hemisphere, but I am delighted to say that we will not hold this record for long, with other renewable energy projects under development that will surpass our project in scale,” he said.
“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.”
Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries also kicked off the development of an electrolyser facility in Gladstone. Stage one of the project is worth $114 million.
Forrest is hoping to drastically reduce the cost of electrolyser which he said sold for about $1.1 million to create hydrogen.
The first units would be sold to the Gibson Island project in Brisbane, a planned hydrogen scheme on the site of Incitec Pivot’s ammonia plant.