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Wind farm rejected over threat to koalas gets green light for new design  

In late 2021, Epuron put in a revised development application for the wind farm, with a redesign of the project’s layout, a reduction in the number of turbines from 81 to 55 and an increase in total generation capacity to around 341MW.

Credit:  Sophie Vorrath | 21 November 2022 | reneweconomy.com.au ~~

The central Queensland wind farm rejected by the former Morrison Coalition government for posing a “clearly unacceptable” threat to koalas has been approved for construction.

Ark Energy says the Lotus Creek wind farm has been approved under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for construction north-west of Rockhampton.

Ark Energy, a subsidiary of mining giant Korea Zinc, says the project involves the construction and operation of up to 55 wind turbines – each rated at up to 7MW – and associated infrastructure with an estimated output of around 341MW.

The wind farm, originally proposed at 200MW by renewables developer Epuron, hit a wall back in mid-2020, when it was rejected by the then federal Coalition government for posing a threat to koalas.

At the time, then federal environment minister Sussan Ley ruled the project would have “clearly unacceptable impacts” on koala populations and other listed threatened species including the greater glider.

In late 2021, Epuron put in a revised development application for the wind farm, with a redesign of the project’s layout, a reduction in the number of turbines from 81 to 55 and an increase in total generation capacity to around 341MW.

New application, new design

The revamped development application for Lotus Creek was approved by the federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water on October 31.

Ark Energy, which in May of this year completed its purchase of Epuron including a nearly 9GW pipeline of projects, says that the DCCEEW’s approval includes provisions proposed for the listed threatened species protected under the EPBC Act.

“The proposal must be undertaken in accordance with the conditions specified in the approval, which include clearing limit and gaining the Minister’s approval prior to construction of offset plans that will provide a conservation gain, as well as various management plans and reporting requirements,” Ark says here.

A spokesperson for Ark Energy says works on the wind farm are expected to begin in 2023 and, over the two-year construction period, generate 250-350 jobs and $200 million in local expenditure.

“Projects like Lotus Creek are critical in meeting [state renewables] targets which require harnessing Queensland’s considerable renewable energy potential as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Ark told the Courier Mail.

Ark Energy’s green power plans

Ark Energy is linked via parent company Korea Zinc to the Sun Metals zinc smelter near Townsville – one of the biggest single energy customers in the country.

Korea Zinc vice chair Yun B. Choi said at the time of the acquisition of Epuron that it was an important milestone for Ark Energy to become a world class green independent power producer and green hydrogen business.

In Queensland, Ark’s proposed Collinsville wind and solar project south-west of Bowen has potential capacity of 3GW of electricity and 1 million tonnes of green ammonia a year, while the SunHQ Hydrogen Hub in Townsville plans to produce green hydrogen from a behind-the-meter connection to the co-located 124MW Sun Metals solar farm.

The company also owns a 30% share in the massive 923MW MacIntyre wind farm being developed by majority owner Acciona in south-west Queensland. Once complete, the project will supply more than half of the energy needs of the Sun Metals zinc refinery.

Ark Energy has also taken a 50 per cent stake in renewables monitoring and forecasting technology company Fulcrum3D, and has invested heavily in emerging gravity storage technology provider Energy Vault.

Source:  Sophie Vorrath | 21 November 2022 | reneweconomy.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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