Bright plan for Rose City
A SPRAWLING 30 hectare field blanketed in solar panels could soon be the first thing travellers see when they head into Warwick.
A proposed $350million solar energy farm has been in the works for six months now, and is expected to bring 120 construction jobs to the region, alongside 35 to 40 full-time jobs.
The 30ha plot on the Cunningham Hwy, near the Caltex truck stop, is expected to be completely covered in solar panels, should the project go ahead.
The property's owner Billy Dwan said he'd been trying to sell the plot that sits next to the bulk supply substation for four decades.
"I've been cursing the electricity grid for 40 years, because I couldn't sell the place because of it,” he said.
"But now, I suppose it's not too bad.”
Australian company Zero Emissions Developments is at the reins of the renewable energy project, and specialises in a new concept solar panel that produces up to 40% more energy than fixed PV panels and pivots with the sun.
The company's CEO and the developer of the solar panel, chemical engineer Ahmed El Safty said the farm's technology would be the first of its kind in the world. It's all about energy storage, and using thermal heat from the sun,” he said.
"The panels are on dual access sun trackers and are more efficient than the panels you see on homes.
"There are about 30 other researchers around the world trying to do similar things, we've got our noses slightly ahead of others.
"The panels are off the ground, we use the breeze to keep them cool, and they rotate to face the sun so we are generating electricity closer to the time of use.”
Mr El Safty spent 14 years developing the technology, and said Warwick was the perfect place to finally see it put into action.
"We picked Warwick because there's a demand for energy in south east Queensland and northern New South Wales,” he said.
"And there is a transmission line to the substation diagonally across from the site.”
The panels will take up the entire 30ha, according to Mr Dwan. "They'll demolish the house, and I'll have to get rid of everything in the paddock,” he said.
"It's been in the wind about six months, and the council has been really good about it.”
The project's consulting surveyor Gary Hayes said the project was still in the proposal and public notifications stage.
"It's a very big operation,” Mr Hayes said.
"But very exciting.
"It's really something that can showcase Warwick as a progressive town, supportive of renewable energy.”
Mr El Safty said the project spelt great things for Warwick's commerce, and hoped parts of the solar panels would be built in the Rose City.
"It's just about creating commerce in that area and from a technical perspective, we meet with all of Ergon's requirements,” he said.
"It also creates export opportunities.”
The proposal comes just months after a $40 million Rabbit Ridge wind farm in Dalveen was approved.
That project will take about six months to construct, and could be completed by the end of 2017.
Residents have until February 6 to provide written comments to council about the solar farm.