North Queensland will be Australia’s first exporter of solar power

Construction of Solar plants in the north of the country will be a game changer

For a long time, North Queensland has been in the limelight for the debate regarding whether the Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin should see the green light. There have even been talks of putting up a new coal-powered generator near the city of Townsville.

Amid all these talks of investing in energy with greenhouse emissions, there is a revolution going on in the domain of clean energy in the state which has made all those discussions pointless because north Queensland is going to be the first major exporter of solar power in the region.

After this development, the Australian energy council is contemplating dropping the idea of building a new coal-fired plant in the northern part of the country.

Most of the area has been conventionally dependent on the power imported from the coal-fired plants located nearly 1000 Km in the south. Now things are going to change.


Energy prospects are mindboggling

As of now, the region is witnessing a major hike in investment in renewable energy projects. Most of this investment is going into the solar PV and it will add 4,000MW of new capacity. This figure is four times more than the peak demand of the area.  It means the surplus generation of energy will turn North Queensland into a key exporter of solar renewable energy. All of the large-scale solar PV projects around the country generate 350 MW of power. These figures clearly highlight the enormity of solar power plants of North Queensland.


What is the response of major industry players?

Don McPhail, the head of network strategy at Ergon, which is now part of the Energy Queensland Group, opines that this energy boom in the north will spread across the country because of the amount of power it is going to generate.

According to him, there have been around 100 inquiries for large-scale plants of 5MW and more. More than 700 inquiries have been received for small to medium-sized plants in the range of 30 KW to 5 MW. These hundreds of inquiries clearly show the will of the many in North Queensland to adopt solar power as the local distribution system.

McPhail told the Clean Energy Summit, “We are seeing a big shift in the way in which the area will consume energy.” He also observed that local administrations are more willing to go for alternate energy resources such as solar and geothermal in order to make the local communities independent of the national grid and saving significant amount of money in this regard.

Sun Metals, a zinc producer, is leading the charge in this regard. They are going to build a 116 MW solar plant to strengthen their future plans of expanding their zinc refineries. Keeping the energy cost low can surely help them to achieve their target since solar is one of the sources to get cheap energy for a long time. Sun Metals becoming less dependent on the national grid will further weaken the case of developing a government-funded coal-fired plant.