Planning works for a $600m renewable energy project in Mount Isa will begin with an agreement between a state-owned energy company and Vast Solar.
Planning works for a $600m renewable energy project in Mount Isa will begin with an agreement between a state-owned energy company and Vast Solar.

Deal sparks $600m power project study

PLANNING work for a $600m renewable energy project in Mount Isa will begin with an agreement between a state-owned energy company and Vast Solar.

A $10m investment for a feasibility study will build on works already completed on the ground to develop the North West Queensland Hybrid Power Project.

This comes after engineering and construction companies were announced to help build the game-changing $1.7bn CopperString 2.0, which will connect the North West to the national electricity grid.

Vast Solar has signed a joint development agreement with the Queensland government-owned Stanwell Corporation, with the partnership including the $10m in funding. Stanwell ran the Mica Creek power station, just outside Mount Isa, which was put into cold storage at the beginning of this year.

Vast Solar, an Australian developer of concentrating solar thermal technology, has been working with contractors in Mount Isa since July 2020, completing tests to ensure the viability of the project before the feasibility study is completed.

The company's initial findings were positive, with reports confirming ideal conditions for the solar technology. The joint feasibility study is expected to be completed later this year, with approvals to come in early 2022 and construction to follow for a two-year period.

Vast Solar CEO Craig Wood said this was a major step forward for the project and the North West Minerals Province.

"Our partnership with Stanwell is underpinned by the attractiveness of the project and we are pleased they can see the benefits it will bring to their customers, the local economy and the wider energy market," Mr Wood said.

The 50MW power plant in Mount Isa will bring hundreds of construction jobs to the area during the two-year build, and dozens of skilled jobs over the 30-year operational life of the plant. The $600m project will deliver cheaper energy than the alternate base load generation options over the lifetime of the project, benefiting the local economy and major resources projects.

"We're ensuring the project is developed in conjunction with local contractors and government wherever possible," Mr Wood said.

Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda said the company was excited to see another renewable energy project take a real step forward.

"Projects such as these are integral to the development and diversification of our energy portfolio. Our involvement in the feasibility study reflects our ongoing commitment to the people of Mount Isa and Queensland, and to the environment," Mr Van Breda said.

"This project illustrates our values by delivering a better Queensland through transitioning to a lower carbon future while still contributing to the economy, creating jobs and delivering low-cost energy to homes and businesses."

Originally published as Deal sparks $600m power project study


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