THE start of construction on the $42.5m solar and storage project near Lakeland will be an opportunity for Far North Queensland to showcase a new level of technical innovation and improved reliability in renewable energy, says Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch.
“Conergy’s announcement that construction will begin in September on Australia’s first solar and storage project is fantastic news,” Mr Entsch said today. “I’m also pleased that it’s received significant funding support from the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to the tune of $17.4m.
“I’ve offered my very strong support to the proponents, ARENA, and Cook Shire Council and Mayor Peter Scott for several years now through the project’s various stages and it’s great to be able to celebrate this milestone.”
Mr Entsch, a vocal backer of renewable energy, said much of criticism he’s encountered on the issue has been based on the unreliability and unpredictability of solar and wind technologies.
“Effective battery storage has been the challenge for a long time, but what we’re seeing here, in a Southern Hemisphere-first, is integration of large-scale solar PV and battery storage.
“Having batteries to effectively store the energy from the sun that is captured during the daytime, for use at night, peak times and during cloudy periods, is a game-changer.
“It’ll enable the plant to consistently feed renewable energy into the grid enough to power the equivalent of 3000 homes day and night and may even help this fringe-of-grid community become almost energy-independent.”
Mr Entsch commended the proponents for setting up a formal Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) between Conergy, ARENA, BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy.
“Given that the technology is so new, it’s critical that information is shared so that future renewable energy projects and communities in Australia and beyond can benefit.”
Mr Entsch added that the project will help Australia to meet its Renewable Energy Target, and noted that the Northern Australia White Paper identifies renewables as continuing to play an important ongoing role in the development of the North.
“As part of this, the White Paper emphasises that governments should act as an ‘enabler’ for private investment in identified infrastructure projects, and ARENA’s support for this project certainly ticks that box.”
He also welcomed the 50 positions that will be created during the construction phase and the 10 ongoing jobs during the 20-year operational phase.