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Collinsville 42.5MW solar farm underway as site works begin

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Ratch Australia’s long-planned bid to build a solar farm on the same site that once hosted a 180MW coal-fired power generation facility have come to fruition, with the commencement this week of works on the $100 million, 42.5MW Collinsville PV project in Queensland’s Whitsunday Region.

Project developer Ratch said on Wednesday that it had broken ground on the solar farm, after the project’s engineering, procurement and construction contractor, UGL Limited, assumed formal control of the site late last month.

Large wind and solar farms can be planned and built in 2-3 years (compared with 10-15 years for nuclear) and are ready now to replace fossil and nuclear electricity. Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ratch appointed contractors to the job in May, after the the project reached financial close with the help of a $60 million commitment from the Clean Energy Finance Corp. And in March, Ratch secured a power purchase agreement with Alinta Energy to buy the PV farm’s electricity and large-scale generation certificates until the end of 2030.

Ratch said civil construction, earthworks and other preparatory activities were at the top of the solar project’s works schedule, ahead of delivery of the first of 163,000 solar photovoltaic panels in September.

Several businesses from the Whitsunday’s region are involved in the construction activities including Collinsville’s Beauchamp Excavating, Proserpine’s Pyro Dynamics, and Bowen’s S&W Crane Hire which was busy delivering site facilities this week. Bowen-based Australian Indigenous Security Services will provide security services at the site.

“Ratch has found the best project outcomes are delivered when as many local people and businesses are involved as possible,” construction manager Glenn Rice said in comments on Wednesday. “The region is well known for the depth of industrial capabilities and skills plus an understanding of how to deal with local climate conditions is a huge asset.

“We are excited to get works underway after such a long planning and development process. We’re confident we have the right team in place to deliver a world class solar farm, and we are on track to be operating by this time next year,” he said.

Ratch owns and operates several renewable energy projects in Australia and is also managing the construction of the 180MW Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Mareeba which is due for completion in September next year.  

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