Queensland to host one of world’s largest concentrated solar energy stations

Queensland could become home to one of the world’s largest concentrated solar energy stations as Minister for Mines and Energy Stephen Robertson announces $100 million in funding towards the development of up to two new commercial-scale solar power projects.

Mr Robertson said the investment will support Queensland solar projects successful in attracting a share of funding under the Federal Government’s Solar Flagships program.

The Solar Flagships Program is a Commonwealth fund to support the construction of large-scale solar power plants in Australia.

"Round one supports one large solar thermal station and one solar photovoltaic (PV) station and currently all of the solar thermal proponents are proposing to build their station in Queensland," he said.

"These plants will present a major stepping stone in providing solar generated power to Queensland, and Australian, households and industry through the national electricity grid.

"This is another step forward in bringing to life a commercial scale solar power station in Queensland and our goal of delivering a sustainable energy future for the State."

Mr Robertson said the $100 million will support two successful Queensland proponents with the costs of developing solar power projects under the Solar Flagships program.

"The total amount of funding is conditional on two projects proceeding in Queensland. If only one Queensland project is approved by the Commonwealth the funding will be reduced," he said.

"The Clinton Report into our solar potential which was released last week showed that Queensland is capable of hosting a large solar powered precinct

"The Queensland solar projects on the drawing board are capable of powering over 50,000 homes for solar thermal plants at the scales proposed.

"These proposed projects will be between 150 megawatts and 250 megawatts for solar thermal, and a part of a multi-state PV project.

The endorsed Queensland projects currently shortlisted for possible funding under the Solar Flagships program are:

Solar photovoltaic

•AGL Energy proposes a multi-site project using thin film solar photovoltaic (PV) technology generating up to 150 MW at multiple sites across Australia including Queensland, ACT, NSW and South Australia;

Solar thermal

•Parsons Brinckerhoff proposes a 150 MW parabolic trough concentrated solar energy plant at Kogan Creek near Chinchilla in Queensland;
•Wind Prospect CWP proposes a 250 MW linear fresnel concentrating solar power plant at Kogan Creek in Queensland; and
•Transfield proposes a 150 MW linear fresnel solar thermal plant at Collinsville in Queensland.

Mr Robertson said that successful Solar Flagships’ projects will also bring the potential for world class solar research and development infrastructure in Queensland.

"The Queensland Government has been working collaboratively with proponents to assist them to put their business cases and feasibility studies to the Commonwealth, and we will now consider a funding framework that gets the best outcome for Queensland and these projects," he said.

"Support of large scale solar projects would complement the existing Queensland solar programs currently underway.

"Queensland is committed to doubling solar energy capacity within five years. We have invested in a variety of solar energy initiatives including the Solar Hot Water Rebate Program.

"Medium scale commitments by the government include the Kogan Creek Carbon Reduction Projects, the University of Queensland Solar Array, and community solar farms for Hervey Bay and Cloncurry.

"Under the Solar Hot Water Rebate Program, more than 9,500 Queenslanders have already received State Government financial support in the take up of solar hot water systems.

"To date, Queenslanders through the use of solar panels and solar hot water systems are already reaping the benefits of more than 351 megawatts of installed solar capacity.

"Today’s announcement builds on this commitment to a sustainable solar power industry in Queensland."