New light shines on solar farm
A $ 100 million solar farm project is back on track at Collinsville after the Federal Government negotiated a reduced Renewable Energy Target through Parliament.
However, plans for a larger solar scheme at Clare in the Burdekin look likely to be delayed after sugar miller Wilmar and harvesters the Brotto family last week lodged legal appeals against that project’s council planning approvals.
Owner of the mothballed coal- fired Collinsville Power Station, Ratch Australia, said they were “actively in discussions” with electricity retailers to secure power purchase agreements after putting their project on hold last year.
“The passage of the legislation for the RET changes ends a long period of uncertainty and will help us to secure an off- taker for the power produced at the Collinsville Solar PV Project,” Ratch general manager business development Anil Nangia said.
Ratch had investigated developing a solar thermal project but has opted to develop a 42 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant with around 180,000 fixed solar panels surrounding the Collinsville power station to supply the equivalent of the annual needs of 15,000 homes.
Mr Nangia said large- scale solar projects were just as costeffective as coal- fired projects.
“The beauty about renewable energy is that the fuel is free and the cost to run them is cheap,” he said.
“When that feeds back into the wholesale electricity market, it reduces costs.”
Ratch hopes to begin construction early next year and hopes to expand it with a second stage. Mr Nangia said it would require a peak construction workforce of around 50 to 80 people and employ up to three permanent staff once complete.
Meanwhile, Wilmar and Lawrence and Patricia Brotto have lodged a Notice of Appeal against approvals by Burdekin Shire Council for a 150 megawatt solar farm at Shadforth Road, Clare, proposed by FRV Services Australia.
According to the notice, the development conflicts with State planning laws and the use of quality agricultural land.
FUTURE: Collinsville power plant with solar panels superimposed.