International oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has won planning approval for a 250MW solar plant in the heart of Queensland’s coal country, in what appears to be its first big move into large scale solar in Australia, and indeed the world.
The company last week revealed it had won the planning approval for the Delga Solar Farm from the Western Downs regional council, which now finds itself in the middle of a large scale solar boom, including a 1,000MW project being considered by the Singapore-based investor Equis.
Shell’s partner in its renewable energy push, through its New Energies division, is with another Singapore-based group Sunseap.
The Wandoan area is mostly known in energy circles for the huge thermal coal project – potentially 30 million tonnes a year – that is proposed by Glencore.
But it has also become a centre for large scale solar proposals. The local council says it has approved eight large scale projects – including a 300MW project by Luminous, Energy, a 107MW Dalby solar farm by Origin Energy, and another 30MW project by FRV, and a 20MW solar plant near Chinchilla by Eco Energy World.
It has also approved the 450MW Coopers Gap wind farm which will begin construction shortly.
“We’ve fully embraced the future of renewables and energy production in our region, and we welcome the proposal of Shell Australia onto the solar energy scene in the Western Downs,” Mayor Paul McVeigh said in a statement on the council’s website.
“This interest from a leading multi-national energy company to invest in renewable energy in our region is a great boost to the Western Downs’ already impressive energy portfolio.
“The Shell Australia solar farm project will bring many benefits to our communities and has the potential to value-add to our existing resource industries and experienced network of supply chain businesses in the region.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates there are 29 large scale solar farms under construction in Australia. RenewEconomy estimates 34 projects totalling 2,350MW are being built, or about to begin construction after signing PPA.
RenewEconomy further estimates another 89 large scale solar projects totalling more than 16GW in the “pipeline”.
Hear Giles Parkinson, David Leitch, and special guest John Grimes discuss this issue and more in this week’s Energy Insiders Podcast.