Vast Solar announced it has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with Stanwell Corporation today (March 22).
The JDA includes funding for a $10m feasibility study for Vast Solar's groundbreaking North West Queensland Hybrid Power Project (NWQHPP), a $600m dispatchable renewable energy project located in Mount Isa that will power the local economy and resources sector with low cost, reliable, clean energy.
Vast Solar has had teams working on the ground with local contractors since July 2020, executing testing to ensure the viability of the project prior to this more detailed feasibility study.
Initial findings are positive, with reports confirming ideal conditions for Vast Solar's world-leading concentrated solar thermal power technology.
The joint feasibility study is expected to be completed late this year, with approvals early in 2022 followed by a two-year construction phase. Importantly, electricity consumers will start to benefit from low cost, reliable, clean energy from 2023 due to a staggered construction program that brings some elements of the hybrid into production earlier than the total plant.
Craig Wood, CEO of Vast Solar said: "This is 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.
The development of the 50MW power plant in Mount Isa will bring hundreds of construction jobs to the area during the two-year build, and dozens of permanent skilled jobs over the 30-year operational life of the plant.
The $600m upfront investment will deliver cheaper energy than alternate baseload generation options over the lifetime of the project, benefitting the local economy and major resources projects.
"We're ensuring the project is developed in conjunction with local contractors and government wherever possible," Craig continued.
Richard Van Breda, CEO of Stanwell, commented: "Stanwell is excited to see another renewable energy project take a real step towards realisation. Projects such as these are integral to the development and diversification of our energy portfolio around the state.
"Our involvement in the feasibility study reflects our ongoing commitment to the people of Mount Isa and Queensland, and to the environment.
"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."
Concentrated solar thermal technology is identified in the Federal Government's recently released Australian Technology Investment Roadmap as a critical part of the country's future dispatchable clean energy mix.
Vast Solar's Australian-made technology has been successfully deployed at its Pilot Project in regional NSW, which has been grid-connected since 2018.
Vast Solar has been advised during the development phase by Energy Estate, the advisory and accelerator firm.
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