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Adani looks to build large scale solar farm in Queensland coal country

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adani_1384876fAdani, the Indian company looking to develop the controversial mega-coal mining project in the Galilee Basin, appears to have been quietly developing plans to build a large scale solar plant in the heart of Queensland’s major coal region, the Bowen Basin.

RenewEconomy has learned that Adani executives have been meeting with landowners in the Isaac Regional Council to find out if they are interested in doing a deal to host a large solar farm. There is no word on the scale of the project, or if it will go ahead.

The Indian company has been seeking federal and state government support for its $15 billion Galilee Basin project, which requires massive investment in a rail link to Abott Point and an upgrade of the port.

Private banks are baulking at the project, the Federal government now seems less keen since the replacement of Tony Abbott as prime minister, although the state Labour government seems supportive.

A spokesman for Adani was not immediately able to confirm that the company had held talks with landowners, or on the status of the project. If a project is proposed, it will likely take some months just to get development approval from the local council, even after agreements are struck with local landowners.

Queensland is emerging as a hot-spot for large scale solar developments, with Ergon Energy holding a tender for up to 150MW of capacity, and the Queensland government holding a tender for up to 60MW of capacity.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation are offering $350 million in grants and finance to support large scale solar, although this is nation-wide.

Numerous proposals have been made for large scale solar in Queensland, including from the proponents of a large scale pumped hydro plant on an old gold mine, the proponents of a combined 1,200MW solar and wind hybrid plant inland from Townsville, a potential 2GW mega solar park in southern Queensland, and several other large scale plants of 100MW or more.

Origin Energy has even talked of a “prospecting race” for solar projects in the region, something that has been confirmed by others in the industry.

A solar project from Adani would be ironic, given its commitment to the coal and the fact that it would be located in the middle of coal country. But it would make sense.

Adani itself has been making heavy commitments to the solar industry in its home country, recently announcing it would look to build 10 gigawatts of solar, as part of the Modi government’s plan to have 100GW of solar by 2022.

It has agreed with the government of Rajasthan to set up a 10,000MW solar park in that state, which will emerge as the largest such integrated facility in India. It has also signed a deal with SunEdison to invest $US4 billion in a solar PV manufacturing facility in the state of Gujarat.


Adani has a total of 10,480MW of generation capacity, all of it in coal, bar for one 40MW solar park that is actually operating. However, next March it due to open a 648MW solar plant at Tamil Nadu in March 2016. Recent solar auctions show that the cost of solar energy is cheaper than that using imported coal.

Other Indian coal companies are also turning towards solar, with even the state owned India Coal – the world’s biggest coal company – announcing this week it will install 1GW of solar to help power its assets.

Note: A spokesman for Adani in Australia later said in an emailed statement:  “Adani declines to comment.”  

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  • johnnewton

    Trojan horse?

    • Jacob

      Lol.

      I think he does not want to be the next Glencore or Peabody or Kodak.

      The $4b silicon factory should be really good if it gets built.

  • Tim Buckley

    Adani has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars of losses here in Australia, so building a profitable solar business makes a lot more commercial sense (it would most likely be able to utilise these tax losses). Certainly it makes more sense than spending more good money after bad on a stranded and likely to be loss-making coal mine.

  • Ian

    What a good idea, they can build a huge solar powered fuel factory in the Galilee Basin taking sunshine and crystallising it into blocks of black carbon. Then they can truck this amorphous rock via Queensland funded railway lines to the barrier reef -surrounded harbours and ship it back to India. Seriously, would you really trust these people with their track record?

  • JC

    Australian businesses should be ones building solar farms, not this unethical, disgraceful foreign company! Adani needs to stay out of Australia, full stop!

  • Sam

    Racist rants about “foreign companies” bring discredit to this website. Kudos to Adani for embracing renewables. They should be encouraged not attacked.

    • That’s if it’s true and not scam to get funding for coal expansion

    • JC

      It isn’t a “racist rant” it’s a “moral statement”! Adani have a disgraceful, and well documented, track record of mistreating their own workers and people! All they care about is how much money they can make. The environment is irrelevant to this evil corporation. They have just been re-approved by the Australian UN-environmental Minister to mine and dredge our heritage listed reef! yet they want to also build solar farms?! really?? It’s like the mafia building hospitals!! If the Australian companies who want to build solar farms and other solar products were also donors to the LNP and the ALP, they would also have a chance. But no, it’s Adani all the way!!!! biased? yes! racist? no! Money doesn’t discriminate!!!

  • john

    The bottom line with this project is that the value of the output is 5600 cal against Newcastle black at 6000 which has a value of lets look http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=coal-australian&months=60&currency=aud
    So at the moment the price is about $80 AU a tonne for the product.
    As I see it Adani has to get at least $75 a tonne to break even.
    Its value is less and at 93% of $80 is $74.4 just about line ball with cost per tonne to export.
    So ok lets work on $85 as the price then the figures become $79.5 not exactly a huge margin one has to admit.
    Now this is against a home production price for yes lower quality coal that brings about $54 a tonne are they going to be happy to pay an extra $20 to $25 a tonne?
    Just how exactly does this proposal stack up and is it justifiable on a business footing?
    I can not see it this is all pie in the sky frankly.

  • Mike Dill

    This makes sense as a new solar ‘plant’ is currently less expensive than a new coal plant. The only reason why existing coal plants continue to operate is that the physical plant has been paid off and the only costs are the fuel and maintenance. Very soon those costs will be more than a new solar plant, and coal power generation will be dead..