Queensland government owned Stanwell Corporation has issued a call for expressions of interest for new supplies of wind and solar power as the company moves to expand its portfolio of zero-emissions electricity generators.
The Queensland (mostly coal) power generator has issued an expression of interest for supplies of renewable electricity, including opportunities to take an ownership stake in wind and solar projects, either from ‘well advanced’ projects or from projects at an early stage of development.
“Stanwell’s objective is to deliver a high-quality pipeline of renewable energy projects that can be integrated into the Stanwell portfolio and marketed to our customers over the short, medium, and long term,” documents issued by Stanwell say.
Documents released via the Queensland government’s tender website show Stanwell seeking opportunities to enter into power purchase agreements with large-scale projects larger than 100MW, as well as opportunities to take a direct equity stake in new projects.
Stanwell Corporation currently operates the 1,460 MW coal-fired Stanwell Power Station and the 1,843 MW coal-fired Tarong power station, which both operate on coal.
The company was forced to record a $720 million write-down on the value of its generator portfolio, relating mainly to the value of the two coal generators, following a fall in wholesale electricity prices.
Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda says the company is looking to expand its investments in renewable energy projects to meet growing demand from customers for lower emissions sources of power and a need to diversify its generation portfolio.
“The energy market is changing rapidly, and we are evolving our business in line with our customers’ changing needs and community sentiment for greener energy and lower emissions,” Van Breda said.
“Through our expression of interest process, we will build a portfolio of renewable projects that meet our retail customer requirements, support the development of Queensland’s large-scale renewable industry, and enable us to diversify our portfolio and reduce our carbon intensity.”
“We are excited about our future and the important role we will play in ensuring Queenslanders have access to secure and reliable energy as the energy sector transitions to lower carbon generation alternatives,” Van Breda added.
Stanwell says it could look to draw upon the Queensland government’s Renewable Energy Fund, a $500 million fund established by the Palaszczuk government to help accelerate the state’s push to achieve its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
Stanwell has already contracted to purchase power from the Clarke Creek Wind Farm, expected to commence generation in 2023, but will use the expression of interest to identify more opportunities to purchase supplies of wind and solar.
The company also signed an agreement with Japanese hydrogen supplier Iwatani Corporation to progress plans for a green hydrogen facility in Gladstone with the ultimate goal to export the zero emissions fuel out of Queensland.
Campaigners Solar Citizens welcomed the moves from Stanwell Corporation, saying increased investment in renewable energy projects by the state government owned utilities were timely, following recent write-downs in the value of their coal generators.
“For decades Queenslanders have voted to keep the majority of the electricity system in public hands, but so far it has mainly been the private sector that has seized the opportunities to develop and operate new solar, wind and storage plants,” Solar Citizens’ National Director Ellen Roberts said.
“Labor’s $500 million Renewable Energy Fund was a very welcome first step, however we’ll need to see a lot more investment in publicly-owned solar, wind and storage projects as coal assets edge closer to retirement. We’ve just recently seen the state’s coal and gas assets decrease their value by over a whopping $1 billion as more cheap solar and wind energy comes online. It’s likely that they’re heading for early retirement.”
“Investing in more publicly-owned clean energy generation will deliver long-term rewards for all Queenslanders, as the profits go back to funding vital services like schools and hospitals,” Roberts added.
Stanwell’s expression of interest was released via the QTenders website, and is open until 24 March.