Ratch Australia has won approval from the Whitsunday Regional Council to build two solar fields on the same site that once hosted its 180MW coal-fired power generation facility. The owners of the now closed Collinsville coal plant in northern Queensland revealed, in February, the finer details of their plans to replace the aging coal plant with a 20MW solar farm, and a 30MW solar thermal installation using linear fresnel technology. The plans for the 44 hectare solar PV array were approved by local council on Wednesday.
“When we realised that this was not economical to continue with the older site, we looked at what we had there, we realised we had a very long connection with Collinsville town and we wanted to continue to work there,” said Geoff Dutton, Ratch’s executive general manager for development. Dutton says the new Collinsville power plant will produce an average of 20-30 megawatts of renewable energy once it is up and running – roughly enough to power about 6000 to 7000 homes.
Dutton told ABC News Online the company was hoping to have the solar plant up and running by mid 2015. “The development application is just part of the process of getting things done,” he said. “We think by the end of the wet season, March/April next year, we would be in a position to say, ‘right, let’s start work on it,’ and it would take a year and a bit. Over that period we think there’d be a work force on there of 40 people at different times for just over a years work that we spend on the site.”
In other news…
The Australian arm of New Zealand energy generation company TrustPower has announced plans to develop a 130-turbine wind farm in the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges, north-west of Mannum in South Australia. ABC Online reports that the proposed $700 million development by TrustPower Australia is planned for an area between Sanderston, Palmer and Tungkillo, and could potentially generate enough energy to power more than 250,000 properties. The proposal from TrustPower – the company behind South Australia’s Snowtown wind farm – is now before the Murray Council’s Development Assessment Panel, which will decide if the project can progress. TrustPower says it will conduct community consultation before lodging a formal development application at the end of the year.
One of Australia’s largest Mutual Banks, supporting teachers and their families, has purchased an electric car for its HQ fleet in Sydney. Teachers Mutual Bank says its new Long Range Holden Volt – with a total driving range of 600km – will be used for transport throughout urban and suburban Sydney, to save on fuel and emissions, and to help spread a message of sustainability. Teachers Mutual says its battery electric Volt with its on-board generator is designed to be propelled by battery power alone for the majority of its driving, using an electric propulsion system and a 16.5kWh lithium ion battery, with a charge of 87km. It says a typical 60km a day commute means that the purchase of petrol is generally unnecessary, making the car 100% carbon neutral.