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.
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?”