Dark days for Collinsville could be over as solar goes ahead
IN THE past Collinsville had its future well and truly hitched to the coal industry.
However, a volatile coal market has seen the fate of the town ebb and flow, depending on how the international market has fared.
Of late, the town has suffered at the hands of the mining industry downturn.
Businesses are struggling in the town that lays claim to being the last place in Australia to decommission pit ponies, who were retired from service of Collinsville Coal's No.2 Mine in 1990.
But last week Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey offered hope for Collinsville when he signed support deeds that released $122million for the 58 megawatt Edify Energy Whitsunday Solar Farm.
The project is expected to generate around 144,000MWh of energy annually, enough to power an estimated 31,000 homes.
This week the Clean Energy Finance Corporation announced the Hamilton Solar Farm, producing power for a further 31,000 homes, would be built north of Collinsville and energy would be sold into the grid.
Funding support will be provided by the Commonwealth Bank and Germany's NORD/LB, with both Edify Energy and Wirsol Energy providing equity.
The two Queensland projects take advantage of the area's 300-plus days of sunshine each year, while also reflecting the CEFC's focus on delivering clean energy solutions in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area, as part of the Reef Funding Program.
Edify Energy Chief Executive John Cole welcomed confirmation of the financing package, which would allow the projects to begin construction in the near future.
"Large-scale solar is finally growing at a pace and making a real impact in Australia's energy mix,” Mr Cole said.
"We will seek to maintain the strong community interest throughout the construction period and into operations scheduled for early next year.”