Hybrid-Solar Project For North West Queensland


A $600 million hybrid-power project is expected to create hundreds of jobs at the North West Queensland Mount Isa site. The combined 50-Megawatt power plant and solar photovoltaic (PV) system is estimated to begin construction in 2021. With a large-scale battery system, gas engines and solar-thermal power technology the project is estimated to deliver dispatchable energy 24 hours a day.

Vast Solar are sourcing local employees for the two-year construction journey of the project and intends to open dozens of permanent operational jobs.

The Mount Isa location was selected due to its high cost of electricity in the region and its longevity of quality sunlight hours. Once the project is up and running its estimated to produce 85% solar energy and significantly reduce energy rates for the resource sector by connecting Mount Isa to the national electricity grid.

The project is still currently in prefeasibility review as Vast Solar have expressed their need for a offtake project partner before construction can begin.

solar project | CopperString

The project aims to complement the CopperString 2.0 project which would further lower costs for customers in the region.

CopperString 2.0

The solar project aims to connect the North West Minerals Province to the national energy grid. After its original flop in 2012 after the Mount Isa Mines, Xstrata and Ergon left the project without financial backing.

The CopperString 2.0 project estimates a 40 per cent power price drop once the connection is up and running and is set to create over 3500 jobs. The revamp of the project comes after the announcement by Queensland Government for a 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030.

Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Development Zone, chief executive Glen Graham mentions that the greatest opportunity to achieve that target would be in the North- West, as they have ample solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, that could all be generated and connected to the national electricity market.

“But to do that you would have to have a substantial transmission line for them to connect it too, ”says Glen Graham.


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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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