FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The Gladstone Engineering Alliance February Industry Update breakfast featured speakers from Orica and Renew Estate (Rodds Bay Solar Farm) at the Yaralla Sports Centre on February 14.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The Gladstone Engineering Alliance February Industry Update breakfast featured speakers from Orica and Renew Estate (Rodds Bay Solar Farm) at the Yaralla Sports Centre on February 14. Matt Harris

Timeline set for solar farm construction

CONSTRUCTION on the $450million Rodds Bay Solar Farm is expected to start in the second quarter of this year.

The proposed solar farm will be located near Bororen and could feature anywhere between 790,000 and 900,000 panels.

The operational lifetime of the solar farm would be 30years, at which time the site will either be decommissioned or continue to operate (after potentially being refurbished).

Decommissioning would return the site to the pre-development condition and not leave a "scorched earth" site, according to Renew Estate director of engagement and culture Rosie King.

"In our landscaping we are being thoughtful, trying to find how you can co-locate the project," Ms King said.

"The term is agrivoltaics, the concept of using the same area of land for a solar farm and farming.

"Typically in the past it's been grass underneath. We are keen to explore more options as to what agriculture can share the site as we want it to be used for more than one purpose."

The project experienced a slight delay in its start time due to grid connection delays but is expected to take 19-20months to become fully online once construction starts.

Renew Estate expects about 88,000 homes could be powered with clean energy, representing 329,000 tonnes of CO2 saved.

Ms King spoke at yesterday's Gladstone Engineering Alliance February Industry Update breakfast and confirmed Renew Estate would look to tap into "local talent" to fill about 400 skilled and trade-based workers at its peak.

"We want to emphasis local and indigenous talent - they're our priority - but it's a huge solar farm and main EPC contractor may need to bring in some talent that are not available in Gladstone when needed," she said.

Orica senior maintenance manager Dewald Herman also spoke at the event to outline the company's schedule.

Orica is due to have a nitric acid shutdown from March 19-30 with about 50-60 workers required, including welders, fitters, rigger, scaffolders and laggers.