Jul 21, 2020

Mount Isa earmarked for $600m energy project

Mount Isa earmarked for $600m energy project Vast Solar's Jemalong CSP pilot plant in New South Wales.

Renewable energy company Vast Solar has identified Mount Isa as the preferred site for a $600 million dispatchable power project.

The 50MW power plant would combine a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, large-scale battery storage and gas engines with solar-thermal power technology developed by the company.

The project is expected to create hundreds of jobs during a two-year construction phase and dozens of operational jobs.

Mount Isa Mayor Danielle Slade said local industries were crying out for affordable electricity and, coupled with the CopperString 2.0 project, this solar initiative would help to make that happen.

“As well as bringing direct employment opportunities, it will indirectly safeguard many other jobs by generating competitively priced, low-emissions electricity that can power local businesses and resources operations, making Mount Isa an even more attractive city in which to live and invest,” Cr Slade said.

“We will be working closely with Vast Solar to help them realise their exciting vision.”

Vast Solar chief executive officer Craig Wood said a prefeasibility study was complete and the company was aiming for financial close early next year.

We’ve been delighted with the positive discussions we’ve had with political leaders, industry and the local community,” he said.

“If we get the green light to progress, we will be a long-term partner of Mount Isa and the surrounding area, creating jobs and tangible benefits that will last for the lifetime of the plant.

“Total investment in the plant is expected to be in excess of $600 million and we are committed to using local suppliers where possible.

“Our plant will deliver new generation to the local electricity market at a lower cost than current power plants. This will ensure local mining and smelting operations can access reliable low-cost energy that also reduces their emissions – a key focus for resources companies.”

The company says 85 per cent of the output would be ‘clean’ energy, with the rest generated by gas.

Vast Solar has been advised on the development of the project by Energy Estate, a leading Australian energy advisory and accelerator firm.

Since June 2018, Vast Solar has operated a 1.1 MWe pilot plant in Jemalong, New South Wales.

The $24 million pilot plant consists of five modules and three hours of storage capacity and received $9.9 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).