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