Queensland regional utility Ergon Energy has begun negotiations with the developers of seven renewable energy projects that it has short-listed for its 150MW tender.
The government-owned electricity network operator and retailer – whose operations cover the entire state of Queensland apart from the south-east corner – said last year it had received proposals for 22 projects totalling more than 2,000MW in capacity.
Those projects have now been narrowed down to a shortlist of seven projects – four solar farms, two wind farms, and a biomass project – totalling more than 500MW in capacity.
The utility is now in negotiations with various parties with a few to making a decision within a few months. It is likely to award its tender well before the concurrent tender from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which has shortlisted 22 solar projects, including 10 in Queensland.
One of those projects appears in both short list – the 42MW Collinsville solar farm proposed by Ratch Australia, a subsidiary of a Thai company.
Spanish group FRV has two projects in the Ergon short list – the 150MW Clare Solar Farm and the 150MW Lilyvale solar farm in the central highlands, (and a separate one, the Baralaba solar farm in the Banana shire council areas in the ARENA shortlist).
The other solar farm is Lyon Infrastructure’s Cooktown solar project, which proposes a 26MW solar project alongside a 5MWh battery storage installations in the north of the state.
The two wind farms to make the shortlist are Infigen Energy’s 75MW Forsayth wind farm, and the 189MW Mount Emerald Wind Farm, jointly owned by Ratch and Port Bajool, in the north of the state.
The biomass project is the Cleveland Power-Darwalla group’s Mount Cotton biomass project, a $20 million proposal to generate power from chicken pooh that has been repeatedly delayed due to local opposition in recent years.
Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey told state parliament just before Christmas that negotiations are expected to be completed early this year. He said companies which have not been successful may have another opportunity through subsequent Ergon tenders, the ARENA programs, and the state government’s own 60MW solar tender.
Queensland Labor has set a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, although it is yet to outline plans on how it will achieve that.
“This is just the latest development in Queensland’s renewable energy sector after a huge year of recovery,” Bailey said.
“We have battery trials going on now in partnership with ARENA, Sunverge and Ergon. We are testing and working out the best interface with customers for batteries and solar PV.
“We are on the cutting edge. We also have industrial batteries going out on the Ergon network right across Queensland in 20 different locations, in comparison to the 1,300 jobs that were lost under the Newman government.”