Queensland continues to add more renewable megawatts and more renewable jobs to its economy, with the latest milestone for the Collinsville Solar farm reaching financial close.
Ratch’s Executive General Manager Business Development, Anthony Yeates, said financial close was the culmination of a series of major milestones, the signing of the long-term grid connection agreement with Ergon Energy Queensland; the signing of AUD60 million (US$44.2 million) in debt financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC); and the signing of the funding agreement with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to secure AUD9.5 million (US$7 million) in grant funding.
Mr Yeates, said:
“We have been working on redevelopment options for the site for a long time and it is really exciting to see it all come together. This significant milestone means we can now get on with construction of this project and if all goes to plan it will be generating electricity within roughly 12 months from now. It is really satisfying to get this project underway after such a long development process. We first started looking at solar power options for the site back in 2010 under the old Solar Flagships program.
After considering lots of alternatives, we will be building a large array of solar PV panels that will generate electricity in essentially the exact same manner as the solar panels that are installed on house rooftops. CEFC and ARENA are very focussed on helping projects like ours proceed and we have certainly benefited from their experience with similar projects.”
Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the 42.5 MW Ratch Australia project showed the clean energy boom in Queensland was accelerating due to the Palaszczuk Government getting the policy settings for Queensland’s renewable energy sector right.
Mr Bailey said:
“Queensland’s renewable energy story continues to go from strength to strength. The Collinsville Solar farm is a AUD100 million (US$73.65 million) 42.5 MW energy and jobs generator, bringing 120 workers to the Whitsunday region during the peak of its construction. This important milestone means that Ratch Australia now has the much-needed credit approval to secure funding and proceed with construction of its solar farm, located 87km from Bowen.
In a fantastic example of new for old - the Collinsville project is also significant as it will utilize existing local electrical infrastructure which was previously established for the old Collinsville coal-fired power station closed during the term of the Newman-Nicholls Government. It is expected construction will begin during May, with the project feeding into Queensland’s electricity grid by mid-2018.
We have 1GW of committed renewable projects in the pipeline, and many more proposed. That’s $2 billion of investment and more than 2000 jobs in the pipeline. This latest investment from Ratch Australia is one of many destined for completion over the next year, and includes the nearby Edify Energy Whitsunday Solar farm and Canadian Solar’s Longreach and Oakey projects.”
Alinta Energy’s decided in March to purchase 70% of its output electricity and Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) generated by the farm through to the end of 2030. The remaining 30% will be sold in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).
The solar farm will feature around 180,000 solar photovoltaic panels and is expected to be operational by June 2018 and produce enough energy to meet the needs of almost 15,000 homes. RATCH-Australia is 80% owned by Thai company Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PCL.