Queensland Government Bails On Solar Farm Project

The Queensland Government has withdrawn funding for Cloncurry Solar Farm as part of a cost cutting campaign that may see other solar related casualties.
    
The Cloncurry project was originally to be based on solar thermal tower technology, but was switched to solar panels after significant reflective glare issues became a concern. The previous Bligh government announced it would provide financial support for the revamped project in November 2010
    
The 2.128MW Cloncurry Solar Farm was to have cost $6.76 million and generate 3,700MW hours of electricity annually; enough  to power approximately 500 households. The solar farm would have offset approximately 76,770 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its life. 
   
Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark McArdle said withdrawing from Cloncurry Solar Farm would save Queenslanders about $5.6 million, which will benefit all Queenslanders rather than what he curiously referred to as “localised climate initiatives”.  It’s unclear at this point if the project will continue.
   
Minister McArdle also signalled what may be the end of Queensland Government financial support for future solar farms.
    
“Large-scale solar farms are proven technology and it is up to the private sector to decide whether to invest in, build and operate such projects in Queensland.”
   
Minister McArdle claims the government is working towards a “stronger renewable and alternative energy sector with a targeted focus on practical research and development of Queensland’s abundant renewable energy resources.”
 
Soon after the Bligh government’s defeat, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman set his sights on dismantling green energy programs deemed to be redundant and a waste of taxpayer’s money. The news of Premier Newman’s razor gang stirred up concern Queensland’s solar feed in tariff may also be hobbled or axed for new connections; but appears to be safe for the time being.
 
Currently the most generous in Australia, the incentive pays households installing home solar power systems 44c per kilowatt hour for surplus electricity exported to the mains grid. According to information from Energy Matters, a 3.04kW solar panel system installed in Brisbane can slash over $1,600 from a household’s electricity bill annually.