ENGINEERING expertise developed during the mining boom will have Mackay companies in prime position to secure 240 regional solar farm construction jobs.
Australian Renewable Energy Agency awarded $9.5million to each of two planned solar farm projects near Collinsville yesterday - RATCH Australia's Collinsville Solar Power Station and Solar Choice and Edify Energy's Whitsunday Solar Power Farm.
The funding boost will bring the projects closer to beginning construction early next year, as both have planned to do.
Resource Industry Network chairman Tony Caruso said the construction would require a range of specialised expertise, particularly civil and electrical engineers.
And as Mackay companies were already tendering for solar farm work in NSW, the commute to Collinsville wasn't likely to deter them.
"All construction companies here locally are used to travelling for work, it's part of the business model," Mr Caruso said.
That meant there could be more opportunities for the METS sector further afield, as 10 other solar farm projects across the country also received funding through the ARENA grants.
The $122.4m, 500-acre Whitsunday Solar Farm is being built by Solar Choice and Edify Energy. Solar Choice managing director Angus Gemmell said construction was likely to take 7-8 months.
But he said that was only stage one of the development, and if all went to plan, the 200 workers could be rolled on to a similar sized second stage straight after.
RATCH Australia is planning to begin building the $95.9m Collinsville Solar Farm early next year, providing they have secured an off-taker for the power produced.
Executive general manager business development Anthony Yeates said engineering and construction of the project would be contracted out to a tier one contractor, which would be responsible for all subcontracting and purchasing.
During construction it would employ 40 workers.
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