Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Renewable Energy News

Solar renewable project to create hundreds of jobs in North West Queensland, developers say – ABC News

By Staff , in Solar Power , at July 20, 2020

A $600 million renewable energy project planned for Mount Isa in North West Queensland is expected to create hundreds of jobs during its construction.

Vast Solar wants to develop a 50-megawatt power plant that would combine a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, a large-scale battery, and gas engines with solar-thermal power technology using mirrors and receiving towers.

Chief executive Craig Wood said the project would produce 85 per cent clean energy and would reliably deliver dispatchable energy 24 hours a day by using integrated generators.

Mr Wood said hundreds of workers would be required to build the plant over two years and dozens of permanent jobs would be created once the plant was operational.

He said Vast Solar had its sights on local workers and contractors.

“Because of the nature of the industry in Mount Isa, there’s a number of firms that have got the skills that we’re going to need to construct and, then on an ongoing basis, help with the operations and maintenance of the plant as well.”

Mount Isa Mayor Danielle Slade welcomed the project and said it would safeguard local employment.

“I see jobs coming from having the electricity here and having more industry,” Councillor Slade said.

Mr Wood said a prefeasibility study was completed and a detailed business case was underway, with construction expected to begin in mid-2021.

“The preferred site that we’re looking at is roughly 10 kilometres due-west of town … the other side of the big Glencore operation.”

Mount Isa’s solar-thermal power plant will be similar to this one in Jemalong in NSW.(Supplied: Vast Solar)

Why Mount Isa?

Mr Wood said Mount Isa was chosen for the plant due to the high cost of electricity in the region and its quality of sunlight.

“In the Atacama Desert in Chile it’s slightly better but Mount Isa’s got excellent sunshine and that has a direct impact on the yield that comes out of our plant.”

The company said the plant would provide cheaper power for the resources sector rather than residential customers and negotiations were underway with a few mining companies.

“It’s ultimately vital that we find a long-term offtake partner for the project,” Mr Wood said.

He said the plant would complement the CopperString 2.0 project and would lower power costs further for customers in the region.

CopperString is a proposed high-voltage transmission line that would connect Mount Isa to the national electricity grid.