Southern Downs to Showcase a World First in Sustainable Energy

The Southern Downs is set to showcase a world-first sustainable energy project as the University of Queensland announced plans to invest $125 million to build, own and operate a solar farm near Warwick. The announcement was made after Council approved the development application for the solar farm last month.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj has welcomed approval for the project, which is expected to provide more than 100 jobs during construction, and several on-going positions.

“This 64 megawatt (MW) solar farm will be an asset to the region, providing research, teaching and engagement opportunities on the Southern Downs, in addition to the environmental and financial benefits,” Professor Høj said.

The University will take ownership of the Warwick project from specialist renewable energy developer Terrain Solar once construction starts.

“The solar farm will see UQ become the first major university in the world to offset 100 per cent of its electricity use through its own renewable energy asset,” Professor Høj said.

“There will be a steady presence on site from a wide range of local and visiting researchers, and we expect to duplicate a popular program that now brings local primary and high school students on field trips to our solar facilities at St Lucia.

“In addition, UQ will install several electric vehicle ‘fast chargers’, and the site will include a visitor’s centre, helping to position the Southern Downs as a renewable energy hub.”

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said that innovation and investment are key drivers to the success of the region into the future. “The Southern Downs is now at the forefront of clean energy research and education. The impact of the project will not only include new jobs for the region, but attract visitors and tourists with an interest in renewable energy.

“It is this kind of investment into the region that secures jobs, economic growth and financial sustainability for the region. Renewable energy is a key element in our sustainable future and here on the Southern Downs we will have a first class working example of a solar farm existing in harmony with agriculture.”

The project establishes up a partnership framework for Council and the University of Queensland to explore renewable energy as well as build upon the existing linkages emanating from the Hermitage Research Facility.

Professor Høj said the research community was very excited about the initiative.