Adani confirms plans to build up to 200MW solar farm in Qld

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Adani Australia says design and tendering underway for $200m, 100-200MW solar project in Qld Bowen Basin; construction set to begin 2017.

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Indian energy giant Adani Group – the company behind controversial plans to develop Australia’s largest coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – has firmed up its solar plans for the Sunshine State, with the announcement it is going ahead with a 100-200MW solar plant south-west of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin.

Adani’s interest in large scale solar in Australia was first revealed by RenewEconomy last year, and the company officially flagged its plans to build up to 250MW of solar capacity in Queensland in May, as part of its emerging Australian renewables portfolio that would also include two solar farms in South Australia totaling 400MW.

It now seems that Adani is interested in building 1500MW of renewable energy projects in Australia, as part of a plan to become the biggest provider of renewable power in the country, a title it is also pursuing in India.

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In a media release on Sunday, Adani said the design and tendering process for the $200 million Queensland solar project were underway, with construction set to begin in 2017, creating between 600-1000 jobs.

Adani’s head of Australian operations, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, said the company’s first round of solar projects would offer a solid foundation to its Australian renewables business and would contribute to the federal government’s large-scale Renewable Energy Target of 33,000GWh of renewables by 2020.

“Coupled with the company’s $3.3 billion dollars of investment to date across its mine, rail and port projects in Queensland, Adani’s plans to pursue solar investment opportunities reflect the confidence the company has in the Australian market,” Janakaraj said.

“This reflects both Adani’s commitment as a diversified energy and infrastructure company in India and a leading solar generator in that market, and the company’s plans to build a long-term future with Australia.”

According to reports, the Bowen Basin solar farm will be built at Rugby Run on the Acton Land and Cattle Company property owned by Evan Acton and Jennie Acton.

Jennie Acton told the Daily Mercury that Adani had originally bought the land to run a railway line through the property, but had proposed building solar there after the railway line was moved.

“They are using the same amount of land but in a block shape instead of a line,” the owner of the property half-an-hour from Moranbah said.

“The solar farm is going on country less suitable for grazing.”

In May, Tim Buckley from the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis suggested Adani’s move towards solar in Australia was a “strategic pivot”, away from its troubled and much contested coal mine proposal in the Galilee.

“Adani Enterprises is today the leading investor in solar project construction and solar module manufacturing in India… and Adani Australia’s pivot into solar is a clear and logical strategic move,” Buckley said.

“Financing a series of one year, A$150-200m solar projects in Australia is a commercially bankable proposition. Financing a A$10 billion decade long project to build a thermal coal mine the world doesn’t need is clearly impossible.”

“The cost of solar is dropping by more than 10 per cent annually, the rate of technology remains staggering. The world has moved on. Why build yesterday’s technology?”

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9 Comments
  1. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    I look forward to the day when Adani announces that it will build a solar farm on top of where its mining leases are.

    • Bristolboy 3 years ago

      One can only hope that day comes soon.

      There has been the recent rally in coal prices but will that be enough to support investing billions in a project that will return over decades? I’m not so sure.

      To me the key thing is when the large global organisations (such as EIA) start to forecast that coal demand has peaked and will then be on a downward trajectory. This will clearly indicate the risk of stranded assets and may actually be a self fulfilling prophecy.

      • Ken Dyer 3 years ago

        Coal is already on the way down from its artificial peak that was caused by India’s monsoon, China stopping production (it has commenced again), and India’s ever growing coal mountain that the coal fired power generators are not making any inroads into because there is less demand for their power. India has installed over 2GW of solar in the last few months.

        • Bristolboy 3 years ago

          Exactly – the causes of the price peak were very temporary. If prices fall further it will make investment in new mines and associated infrastructure even less economic. Ultimately we need to get to the point whereby all investors realise that any business linked to coal (aside from those which clean-up old sites!) is a poor investment and the only way of that happening is for wind, solar etc to become ever cheaper followed by the large consultancies and forecasters to admit coal is a declining fuel.

          In the UK there is a fight over a coal mine which is much smaller than Carmichael, but significant nonetheless. This is an opencast project in the north-east of England at Druridge Bay and is only economic assuming there will be demand for it’s entire life (2017-2024). If that demand disappears (because wind or solar comes in) then that destroys the business case and the project won’t take place.

          Also it shows the advantage in “delaying” progress of planning as it leaves longer for wind and solar to become competitive.

    • John Saint-Smith 3 years ago

      Any solar farm as large as their coal mining leases would be able to power the whole of Australia!

  2. Tim Buckley 3 years ago

    Also worth noting Adani has just this month announced a new target to build 320MW across four solar projects in Bangladesh, in alignment with the new focus on India-Bangladesh’s more integrated power development strategy. If Adani delivers on this promise, it will be the largest solar developer in each of India, Bangladesh and possibly Australia, from a virtual standing start in 2015. Impressive, if only they would realise the conclusion of all this is that the future of imported thermal coal into India is zero, making Carmichael just another stranded asset from a prior era.

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      That is interesting.

      Adani already has a HVDC line in India.

      Perhaps they could build one to link Bdesh with India – so if building a solar power station in Bdesh is cheaper, they could export the electrons across the border.

      • Tim Buckley 3 years ago

        Brunei – India and Bangladesh have two interconnects now operational, with total capacity of 600MW. There is a clear plan to lift this electricity export capacity tenfold, and add in connectivity to Bhutan hydro as well. India can build and export cheap, deflationary and zero emissions solar electricity, and as you say, newly listed Adani Transmissions Ltd can build, fund and own the grid interconnect.

        • Brunel 3 years ago

          They should cancel all plans to build a nuclear reactor in Bangladesh.

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