Shell com­mits to big­ger role for re­new­ables

The Observer - - FRONT PAGE - NICK GIBBS

RE­NEW­ABLES are set to play a big­ger role in Cen­tral Queens­land af­ter a ma­jor com­mit­ment to so­lar by one of Aus­tralia’s leading nat­u­ral gas com­pa­nies.

Shell Aus­tralia will build its Gan­garri so­lar farm in Cen­tral Queens­land, and the en­ergy pro­duced will be used to off­set emis­sions from its QGC gas ven­ture.

It is the com­pany’s first in­dus­tri­alscale so­lar project, and the elec­tric­ity pro­duced will be sold to the na­tional elec­tric­ity grid.

“Shell will buy back the equiv­a­lent amount of elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated by the Gan­garri so­lar farm to off­set the car­bon emis­sions from its QGC project by around 300,000 tonnes a year,” a spokesman said.

As well as an LNG ex­port fa­cil­ity on Cur­tis Is­land, QGC’s op­er­a­tions in­clude more than 2,600 pro­duc­tion

wells and six cen­tral pro­cess­ing plants.

Cur­rently nat­u­ral gas is used to power tur­bines that cre­ate en­ergy for LNG plants on the is­land, and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted $1.5 mil­lion to­ward ex­plor­ing elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

“We are happy to en­gage with the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments, and other reg­u­la­tors, to con­sider the fea­si­bil­ity of this project,” a spokesman for Shell said.

Nat­u­ral gas will con­tinue to play a key role in Aus­tralia’s en­ergy mix as more re­new­able en­ergy comes on­line, ac­cord­ing to Aus­tralia’s chief sci­en­tist, Alan Finkel.

In an ad­dress to the Na­tional Press Club on Wednesday, Dr Finkel said that as re­new­ables scaled up, there needed to be an en­ergy com­pan­ion “that could re­act rapidly to changes in so­lar and wind out­put”.

“In the short-term, as the Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter An­gus Tay­lor have pre­vi­ously stated, nat­u­ral gas will play that crit­i­cal role,” he said.

The Gan­garri so­lar farm will be built near Wan­doan and gen­er­ate 120 megawatts of so­lar elec­tric­ity from about 400,000 pho­to­voltaic pan­els.

“We be­lieve so­lar will play an in­creas­ing role in the global en­ergy sys­tem, es­pe­cially when part­nered with a re­li­able en­ergy sources such as gas,” Shell Aus­tralia chair­man Tony Nu­nan said.

“We are in­creas­ingly in­cor­po­rat­ing re­new­able en­ergy into cus­tomer of­fers, as we have done here for QGC, by com­bin­ing re­new­able en­ergy with a firmed en­ergy solution of­fer­ing re­li­able sup­ply, a fixed price and a cleaner lower emis­sion pack­age.”

The project will cre­ate up to 200 new jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion and is ex­pected to be com­pleted in early 2021.

It is one of a num­ber of so­lar projects in the works for Cen­tral Queens­land.

Con­struc­tion on the Rodds Bay so­lar farm, ap­prox­i­mately 50km south of Glad­stone, is likely to be­gin this year.

Work on the Al­doga So­lar farm in the Glad­stone State De­vel­op­ment Area is ex­pected to be­gin in early 2021.

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