Solar replaces coal in north Queensland, as Collinsville switches on

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Ratch Australia’s 42.5MW solar project powers up, at its location next to the decommissioned Collinsville coal plant.

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The transformation of a coal-fired power station into a 42.5MW solar farm in northern Queensland is almost complete, with the Collinsville solar project being powered up at its location next to the decommissioned Collinsville coal-fired power station.

Project developer Ratch Australia said on Monday that the first batch of solar panels had been turned on as part of a staged testing and commissioning process, ahead of the $100 million project achieving full commercial operation in September.

The symbolic project reached financial close in May 2017, with the help of $60 million from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and nearly $10 million in grant funding from ARENA.

A couple of months earlier, the project had sealed a power purchase agreement with Alinta Energy to buy its electricity output and large-scale generation certificates until the end of 2030.

Collinsville solar farm is one of a number of large-scale PV projects that will make good use of existing electricity network infrastructure, originally built for coal-fired power plants.

Ratch head of business development, Anthony Yeates, said the testing heralded the “electrification” of the Collinsville project – a “meaningful milestone” that would see the PV farm sending power to the national electricity grid via the site’s refurbished substation.

“First generation is a meaningful milestone as we’re now generating and exporting electricity to the grid. We’ll be ramping up the amount of generation as the project reaches completion point next month,” Yeates said.

“The project showcases how old coal-fired generation sites can be repurposed as new renewable energy bases, benefiting from existing infrastructure, while helping to transform Australia’s energy mix.”

The solar farm will deliver in the order of 130,000MWh of renewable energy, which is predicted to meet the annual needs of approximately 15,000 Whitsunday homes over a 20-year period.

Ratch owns and operates several renewable energy projects in Australia including the 180MW Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Mareeba which is due for completion in November.

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