So­lar and wind pro­ject has merit but ‘ not the only op­tion’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

PEAK de­vel­op­ment body Townsville En­ter­prise has backed a huge wind and so­lar pro­ject to pro­vide cheap power for the re­gion and wants it in­cluded in round­table dis­cus­sions on how to re­duce energy costs.

How­ever, the or­gan­i­sa­tion is not back­ing away from the find­ings of a con­tentious study it led rec­om­mend­ing a coal- fired power sta­tion as the most cost- ef­fec­tive op­tion.

Re­new­able energy propo- nents have crit­i­cised the find­ings of the North and North­west Queens­land Sus­tain­able Re­source Fea­si­bil­ity Stud­ies, funded by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment with a $ 2.5 mil­lion grant and draw­ing on con­sul­tants in­clud­ing GHD and ACIL Allen.

The stud­ies sup­port de­vel­op­ment of a coal- fired power sta­tion at a coal mine in the north­ern Galilee Basin, show­ing the price of coal- fired power at less than $ 100 per megawatt hour, with wind power al­most at that rate and with so­lar at more than twice that cost.

Wind­lab CEO Roger Price, propos­ing a $ 2.5 bil­lion wind and so­lar scheme near

Things are mov­ing so fast in re­new­able


Hugh­en­den, said it could pro­vide elec­tric­ity at “around $ 100 ( per MW hour)” and less than new coal- fired power.

Mr Price said the fig­ures re­lied on in the Townsville En­ter­prise re­port were wrong.

“We don’t think it has the eco­nom­ics quite cor­rect, par­tic­u­larly be­cause things are mov­ing so fast in re­new­able energy,” Mr Price said.

Mr Price said he “chal­lenged any­one” who thought new coal- fired power could be de­liv­ered any­where near $ 100/ MW hour.

Townsville En­ter­prise eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment man­ager Tracey Lines said Wind­lab’s pro­ject was “ex­cit­ing” and be­lieved it should be in­cluded among pro­pos­als which could ac­cess the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s $ 5 bil­lion North­ern Aus­tralia con­ces­sional loan fa­cil­ity.

How­ever, she stood by the find­ings of the sus­tain­able re­source fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies.

“I wouldn’t say they are wrong but any­one who says they fully un­der­stand the energy mar­ket is fibbing,” Ms Lines said.

She said Townsville En­ter­prise’s po­si­tion was that the cost of energy needed to be re­duced for house­holds, busi­nesses and heavy in­dus­try and that so­lu­tions would come from ar­eas in­clud­ing im­proved reg­u­la­tion and not a sin­gle pro­ject, whether it was re­new­able or coal- fired.

“There is no sin­gle pro­ject that would fix the price of energy,” Ms Lines said.

Ms Lines said Townsville En­ter­prise would host an energy round­table meet­ing in the next few weeks and hoped Wind­lab would be in­volved in dis­cus­sions.

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