Ratch Australia’s proposed $100 million Collinsville Solar Farm is a big step closer to construction after the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced today it was awarding $9.5 million in funding to the project.
Covering around 10 percent of the project’s forecast construction costs, the multi-million dollar grant was awarded as part of ARENA’s large scale photovoltaic competitive round. Collinsville was one of 12 projects to receive a grant out of more than 75 initial applications from around the country.
“We have been working on redevelopment options for the site for a long time and it is really exciting to see it all come together,” Mr Yeates said.
Ratch’s Executive General Manager - Business Development, Anthony Yeates, believed that the project’s successful bid was attributed to a number of reasons..
“ARENA’s grant confirms Collinsville as one of Australia’s premier solar projects because certainty of project delivery, and cost competitiveness were key elements of ARENA’s merit assessment process,” Mr Yeates said.
“I think ARENA also liked that the project will utilise the site of Ratch’s now decommissioned Collinsville coal-fired power station and will seek to take advantage of existing electrical infrastructure including substations and Ergon’s distribution network.”
Mr Yeates said the grant would further improve the project’s cost competitiveness and elevate its appeal to prospective electricity off-takers.
“The grant will support our ongoing efforts to secure an off-taker for the power produced by the project, which is now the main piece of the puzzle we need to fit into place before we can really begin the ramp up to construction,” Mr Yeates said.
“There are still a lot of things moving around at the moment, but if all goes to plan, construction could kick off early next year which would be a great outcome for the Collinsville and Whitsundays region.”
ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said Australia’s big solar industry was coming of age thanks to ARENA support, ensuring large-scale solar was a competitive, sustainable energy option.
“ARENA had been a driving force in bringing down costs and accelerating the commerciality of large-scale solar in Australia and has carried out a multiyear plan to build capacity in Australian supply chains and expertise over successive projects,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“The 12 new plants slated for funding through this round will provide enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes and deliver one tenth of the new capacity required to meet Australia’s 2020 renewable energy target.”
The 42 MW Collinsville solar farm would feature around 180,000 solar photovoltaic panels and supply power equivalent to the annual needs of 15,000 homes.
Mr Yeates said engineering and construction of the project would be contracted out to a tier one contractor which will be responsible for all subcontracting and purchasing.
Ratch owns and operates three wind farms in Australia and has an interest in a number of renewable energy development opportunities including the Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Mareeba which is scheduled to start construction later this year.