Disused Aussie coal-fired plant set for solar transformation

Backed by two state-run renewables agencies, the scheme comes after more than 300MW of solar projects reached financial close in Queensland last week.

Collinsville Solar Farm, a 42.5MW facility sponsored by RATCH-Australia Corporation, has reached financial close with support from two government-run renewable energy champions. 

The A$100 million ($73.6 million; €67.7 million) project at coal-mining town Collinsville of Queensland involves the redevelopment of a disused coal-fired power plant closed in December 2012. It has secured A$60 million of financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and A$9.5 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Agency. 

Alinta Energy has agreed to buy up to 70 percent of the plant’s solar output until the end of 2030. The project is set to become operational by mid-2018. 

“We have been working on redevelopment options for the site for a really long time and it is great to finally see one of these options come to life. The finance from the CEFC and ARENA’s funding have helped us repurpose a disused site which receives optimal sunshine, and can take advantage of existing infrastructure to feed its solar output into the grid,” said Anthony Yeates, executive general manager of business development at RATCH-Australia. The company started early work on this project in November 2013. 

The government of Queensland said the state counts a renewables project pipeline of 1GW, representing A$2 billion of investment. 

The CEFC’s financing for this solar plant comes under its Reef Funding Programme, which aims to deliver clean energy solutions in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area. The project also marks the CEFC’s 10th project through the Large-Scale Solar Programme launched in 2015, bringing the scheme’s total commitments to over A$370 million and total generation capacity to more than 400MW. 

“There’s been a strong influx of developers into the sector and an increasing investment appetite from a widening base of institutional investors, which has helped fuel the growth in solar capacity,” said Gloria Chan, who leads the solar programme at the CEFC. 

In the first week of this month, Queensland saw over 300MW of solar projects reach financial close, including the 148MW Ross River Solar Farm, the largest of its kind in the state to date.