Mount Isa has been identified as the preferred site for a $600m dispatchable energy project using cutting-edge Australian solar thermal technology to power the community and resources sector with low cost, clean electricity.

Australian company Vast Solar is looking to develop a 50MW power plant that will deliver a jobs boom for the area, including hundreds of construction jobs during the two-year project build and dozens of permanent, highly skilled operational jobs. The plant will combine solar PV, a large-scale battery and gas engines with Vast Solar’s own concentrated solar thermal power technology, using mirrors and receiving towers to gather and store the sun’s energy. These integrated generators will reliably deliver dispatchable clean energy 24 hours a day. The plant will produce 85% clean energy and use significantly less fuel than current generators. Lower fuel costs and the plant’s 30 year operational life mean the $600m upfront investment will deliver significantly cheaper energy than alternate baseload generation options over the lifetime of the project.

Mayor of Mount Isa, Danielle Slade, commented: “Not only is this exactly the type of project our community needs, but with clear, sunny skies for most of the year and an extra hour of sunlight to the rest of Queensland, Mount Isa is the ideal area in which to locate it. Our local industries are crying out for affordable electricity and, coupled with the CopperString 2.0 project, this solar initiative will help to make that happen.

“As well as bringing direct employment opportunities, it will indirectly safeguard many other jobs by generating competitively priced, low-emissions electricity that can power local businesses and resources operations, making Mount Isa an even more attractive city in which to live and invest. We will be working closely with Vast Solar to help them realise their exciting vision.”

Vast Solar is currently in discussion with investors and major energy users in the area whose backing will be critical for the project.

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 Australia-made technology has been successfully deployed at its pilot project in regional NSW which has been grid-connected since 2018. The pilot project created dozens of jobs and injected over $5,000,000 into the local economy.

Craig Wood, CEO of Vast Solar, said:

“We’ve been delighted with the positive discussions we’ve had with political leaders, industry and the local community. If we get the green light to progress, we will be a long-term partner of Mount Isa and the surrounding area, creating jobs and tangible benefits that will last for the lifetime of the plant.

“Total investment in the plant is expected to be in excess of $600m and we are committed to using local suppliers where possible.

“Our plant will deliver new generation to the local electricity market at a lower cost than current power plants. This will ensure local mining and smelting operations can access reliable low-cost energy that also reduces their emissions – a key focus for resources companies.”

Vast Solar has been advised on the development of the project by Energy Estate, a leading Australian energy advisory and accelerator firm.

Notes to editors

About Vast Solar

Vast Solar is an Australian developer of concentrating solar thermal power technology. Its innovative modular solar array combines the best elements of molten salt towers and thermal oil parabolic trough systems to deliver the world’s lowest-cost dispatchable renewable energy for hot, dry climates.

In October 2019, the Company was awarded the International Energy Agency’s prestigious SolarPACES Technical Innovation Award for the world’s most innovative concentrated solar thermal power technology. This same technology will power overnight at its Mount Isa project.

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About Energy Estate

Energy Estate is an advisory firm and business accelerator, focused on accelerating the transformation of the global energy sector. Energy Estate has offices in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide. The team brings together experts across the industry, giving us an understanding of the energy sector that is collaborative, innovative and holistic.

Energy Estate is co-developer of the Walcha Energy Project in NSW. Its affiliate, Renew Estate, has successfully developed the Bomen Solar Farm in NSW and the Rodds Bay Solar Farm in Queensland.

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