July 18, 2019
A subsidiary of global energy company BP has submitted a development application to Gympie Regional Council to build a solar farm at Lower Wonga.
Lightsource BP – jointly owned by BP and Europe’s largest solar developer, Lightsource – has applied to build a 60 megawatt solar farm at the corner of Gympie-Woolooga and Tones roads, 25km north-west of Gympie.
The project will occupy 160ha of a 180ha rural site and is expected to create up to 150 jobs during the 12-month construction period.
It will then operate with five permanent staff and a further five contracting jobs will also be available.
Providing it receives approval, Lightsource BP plans to have the solar farm operational by 2022.
When complete, the site will host 180,000 solar panels, an electricity substation, a project site office and maintenance workshop.
The panels would be connected by underground cables to onsite power inverters and conditioners, and the panels will track the sun during the day.
The solar farm’s projected lifespan is 40 years.
After this, it will be decommissioned and the site will be rehabilitated and returned to agricultural use.
In its submission, the company proposes sealing the intersection of Gympie-Woolooga Road and the Wide Bay Highway for a short distance to minimise the chance of shifting gravel from Gympie-Woolooga Road on to the highway.
It also proposes to widen Gympie-Woolooga Road to the Tones Road intersection to allow heavy vehicle transports to move components to and from the site.
Lightsource BP will then undertake periodic “make good” maintenance grades to ensure the expanded section remains in good condition.
The proposal is the third solar farm planned for the area in the past two years.
It follows plans announced by SolarQ in 2017 to build a $2 billion project on the southern side of the Wide Bay Highway, and a proposal by LGI Limited, announced in 2018, to build a solar farm on the northern side of the highway.
Lightsource BP’s project would be built about 2km south of these.
Gympie Regional Council is still assessing the proposal.