Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce turned the first sod at a new solar farm and visited a major wind project this week, days after saying the Government needed to build a new “clean” coal fired generator.
Mr Joyce turned the first sod at the White Rock Solar Farm and inspected construction progress at the $600 million Sapphire Wind Farm, both of which are in his electorate of New England.
The local member talked up the wind project’s contribution to the community, noting that developer CWP Renewables had provided 200 full time construction jobs at the Sapphire project, with fly in fly out workers contributing around $600,000 to local communities each month. At least 30 of these jobs were filled by locals.
The White Rock Solar Farm is adjacent to the White Rock Wind Farm, around 18 kilomtres from Glen Innes.
“This project along with other similar projects in the region make the New England area the leader in renewable energy production and export, and will help Australia reach its renewable energy targets,” he said.
Days earlier, Mr Joyce told Sky News that he was supportive of the Government helping fund a new “high efficiency, low emissions coal fired power station” which could cost up to $2.2 bilion, if private investment could not be found.
“I’ve got nothing against taking equity in it and lending the money so something could get built,” he said.
“Why? Because an equity position on a reasonable asset is an asset for the Australian balance sheet.”
Mr Joyce said the biggest risk to the project was the attitude future Governments may have towards coal.