Construction of the $100 million Collinsville Solar Farm is on track to start in the first half of this year.
Project developer Ratch Australia Corporation announced today it had entered into an agreement with Alinta Energy for the energy retailer to purchase electricity and large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) generated by the farm through to the end of 2030.
The 42MW solar farm will feature about 180,000 solar photovoltaic panels and supply power equivalent to the annual needs of 15,000 homes, or the entire Whitsunday region.
The project site is in close proximity to the old Collinsville coal-fired power station to take advantage of existing electrical infrastructure including substations and Ergon Energy’s distribution network.
Ratch executive general manager business development Anthony Yeates said the company would be working hard with its contractors, regional authorities and services to start construction within months.
“This is a major milestone for the project as the power purchase agreement provides the revenue stream which underpins the project. We are pleased to further our relationship with Alinta Energy and help to support growth in their retail business,” Mr Yeates said.
“We are now in a position to finalise our construction and financing arrangements and to firm up the construction timetable, and expect to share this information with all relevant stakeholders as soon as possible.
“We expect pre-construction activities will take about three months so if all goes to plan we will break ground before June and have the first generation from the project by this time next year.”
The project will have a peak construction workforce of around 70 and employ two permanent staff once complete.
Up to 20 staff will be required every six months to clean the solar panels.
The Collinsville Solar Farm received approval from the Whitsunday Regional Council in 2013 and was awarded $9.5 million in funding from the Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in September.
Ratch is currently developing the 180 MW Mount Emerald Wind Farm, which is due for completion in September next year.