Ratch Australia’s multi-million dollar solar project at Collinsville has received a boost after the Federal Parliament passed amending legislation to revise the Federal Government’s renewable energy target (RET) last week.
Australia’s new target of producing 33,000 gigawatt hours of electricity from utility-scale renewable energy projects by 2020 follows one and a half years of political gridlock. This is a reduction from the previous 41,000 gigawatt hours but has eased industry disquiet after investment in renewable energy projects stalled.
Ratch General Manager Business Development, Anil Nangia, said the passage of the RET meant it was sunny skies ahead for the company’s $100 million Collinsville solar photovoltaic (PV) project.
“The passage of the legislation for the RET ends a long period of uncertainty which required us to delay the Collinsville project,” Mr Nangia said.
“The RET outcome will help us to secure an off-taker for the power produced by the project, which will be necessary for us to begin construction.
“This project has the potential to unlock millions of dollars of investment in the Whitsunday region, create much needed jobs, and grow the order books of local companies,” he said.
Mr Nangia said that if the project proceeds, local purchasing is likely to include a wide range of products and services from fencing contractors, concreters, welders, electricians, plant and equipment operators, transport contractors and administrators. The project could have a peak construction workforce of around 40 and could employ up to three permanent staff once complete.
The 42 megawatt (MW) solar power station would feature around 180,000 solar PV panels and supply power equivalent to the annual needs of 15,000 homes. This is equivalent to all the homes in the Whitsunday region. The project site is in close proximity to the old Collinsville coal-fired power station to take advantage of existing electrical infrastructure including substations and Ergon Energy’s distribution network.
The project has already received development approval from the Whitsunday Regional Council and Ratch is hopeful of commencing construction in early 2016. Ratch is also looking at ways to expand the project with a second stage.
"We’re eager to get started. It’s no secret that Australians want more renewable energy, not less, because they are drawn to the benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing air pollution and greater energy security," Mr Nangia said.
Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Jennifer Whitney welcomed Ratch’s investment in the region following a project update by the company in Proserpine on Wednesday.
“This is great news for the Whitsundays, a major capital investment of $100 million plus will have major economic significance to the region. It’s a new industry that will increase the diversity of the local economy and provide much needed employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers,” Mayor Whitney said.