Large-scale solar in Collinsville gets construction go-ahead

A former Queensland coal mining hub is becoming state’s solar hot spot with two new large-scale solar farms about to begin construction near Collinsville.

Edify Energy’s 150MW Daydream Solar Farm and 50MW Hayman Solar Farm are located near the company’s 57.5MW Whitsunday Solar Farm and the 57.5MW Hamilton Solar Farm, which are already under construction.

“We are delighted to have closed another large utility scale solar PV financing transaction and to be a significant contributor to the renewable energy market in Australia,” Edify Energy chief executive John Cole said.

“Partnering with BlackRock Real Assets, and their first investment into the Australian renewable energy market, is a real coup for Edify and is a major step forward towards mainstreaming solar renewable power in Australia.

“With a pipeline of projects under development, we look forward to playing a meaningful part in the decarbonisation of the Australian energy sector.”

The completion of this project brings Edify’s portfolio to five solar farms and the provision of a combined 440MWp of renewable energy capacity to the national electricity grid.

Construction on both projects will commence in September 2017 with both solar farms being constructed by Australian firm RCR Tomlinson.

The projects consist of about two million solar panels.

Another 42MW solar farm is being developed by Ratch Australia at the site of the disused Collinsville power station.

All five projects have secured finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the continued growth in large-scale solar projects in high insolation areas like north Queensland made enormous sense as part of the Australian economy’s transition to net zero emissions by the second half of the century.

“These developments are helping drive Australia’s clean energy transformation, by taking advantage of ideal solar energy generation conditions and building experience and expertise in the sector,” Mr Learmonth said.

“We are looking to finance projects that enhance grid stability while developing new renewable energy generators.

“These two new projects have the ability to integrate future storage solutions, increasing the clean energy benefits to the grid.”

Mr Learmonth said the solar projects also reflect the CEFC’s focus on delivering clean energy solutions in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area as part of its Reef Funding Program.

“By financing the development of solar farms in the Reef Catchment Area, we are developing cleaner ways of powering local communities, which can have a positive impact on the long-term health of the Reef,” Mr Learmonth said.

Origin has signed a PPA to buy all the output and renewable energy certificates from Daydream solar farm, expected to be operational by mid-2018, until 2030.

Energy generated by the Hayman solar farm will be sold into the grid on a merchant basis.

Origin CEO Frank Calabria said the company is accelerating its transition to renewables, with more than 25 per cent of Origin’s generation mix to come from renewables by 2020, up from 10 per cent today.

“Australia has abundant solar resources which are strongest in Queensland and Origin is proud to be playing our part helping the nation to better tap this renewable energy source,” Mr Calabria said.

“Daydream will be the latest solar farm to get the go-ahead after being backed by a PPA with Origin, following similar agreements with Australia’s largest solar development, Bungala in South Australia, as well as Moree in New South Wales and Darling Downs solar farm in Queensland.

“Renewables are now the lowest cost new generation and with the rapid increase in renewable supply not just by Origin but the broader market, we expect to see this start to put downwards pressure on prices for customers.”

Earlier this year the CEFC committed a total of $77 million to three other Edify Energy projects – the Whitsunday and Hamilton solar farms, and the 50 MW (AC) Gannawarra Solar Farm in Victoria.

The CEFC has also committed $60 million to the Ratch-Australia Corporation solar farm.

Key project attributes

Attribute Daydream Solar Farm Hayman Solar Farm
Location North of Collinsville, QLD North of Collinsville, QLD
Size 430 hectares 160 hectares
DC capacity 180 MWp55,000 homes powered 60 MWp18,000 homes powered
Offtaker Origin Energy Merchant
Solar panels 1,500,000 500,000
Construction to commence Q3 2017 Q3 2017
Commercial operations Mid 2018 Mid 2018