Collinsville, Queensland solar plant ready to break ground

Energy developer RATCH Australia Corp. has announced it will begin construction of the $100 million Collinsville, Queensland solar photovoltaic (PV) farm on the site of a defunct coal-fired power station.

The project will consist of 180,000 ground-mount, single-axis solar panels for maximum solar exposure and have a generation capacity of 42.5 megawatts (MW).

The plant is expected to provide enough electricity to power 15,000 homes each year, and offset 90,000 tonnes of carbon emissions during the first 12 months of operation.

The former coal town will benefit, with up to 100 construction jobs created during the build and around 20 maintenance and operational positions.

Queensland solar farm approved with large-scale funding

Whitsundays Council approved plans to repurpose the old Collinsville coal power site as a solar facility back in 2013, but finding the right technology to suit the region – and attract an adequate level

Alinta Energy has agreed to purchase up to 70 per cent of the farm’s generated solar capacity.

of funding – was a challenge, according to Ratch’s executive general manager of business development Anthony Yeates.

“We have been working on redevelopment options for the site for a really long time and it is great to finally see one of these options come to life. The finance from the CEFC and ARENA’s funding have helped us repurpose a disused site which receives optimal sunshine, and can take advantage of existing infrastructure to feed its solar output into the grid,” Mr Yeates said.

Queensland solar farm.
Queensland solar farm. Image : Industry Queensland

The Collinsville solar power plant is the 10th project to receive debt financing through the government-owned Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) Large-Scale Solar Program. The CEFC has committed $60 million to the Collinsville solar farm, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) $9.5 million.

Aussie solar sector nears subsidy-free status

The $370 million program has driven solar projects with an estimated project value of $900 million and a total generating capacity of more than 400MW (AC). According to CEFC Program Lead Gloria Chan, utility-scale solar in Australia is reaching a commercially-viable tipping point.

“Our finance has played a significant role in this transformation, given that in 2012 there was only 18MW of installed capacity and it’s estimated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that there will be around 1,000MW installed by the end of 2018.” Ms Chan said.

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