Solar farm approved at Vales Point coal-fired power station

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The $117 million solar project got a regulatory nod to be developed alongside an aging coal plant on the shores of Lake Macquarie, New South Wales. The project will deliver up to 110,000 MWh of renewable energy each year which is enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 homes.

The 55 MW solar Pv plant, which attracted broad community and political support when it was placed on public exhibition earlier this year, will be operated by Sunset Power International, trading as Delta Electricity – owned by coal entrepreneurs Trevor St Baker and Brian Flannery.

The Vales Point coal-fired power station has been a subject of controversy after it had been sold for a mere $1 million to Flannery in 2015 and revalued at $730 million only two years later.

According to Delta, the new solar project is designed to help to bridge any shortfall brought about by the closure of coal-fired power stations. Namely, Vales Point is turning 50 in 2029, although the company is confident it is going to last a lot longer than that.

The colocation of two power plants is believed to be optimal, due to close proximity to transmission lines to the grid. According to the company spokesperson, construction is expected to begin mid next year.

“Delta recognizes that both dispatchable power and low emission technologies have a role to play in supporting an affordable, reliable and sustainable national electricity grid” Delta Electricity Company Secretary Steve Gurney.

“The Vales Point site is an example of how both technologies can be co-located and integrated into the grid.”

The Vales Point Solar Project is expected to bring the Delta renewable energy development portfolio to approximately 300MW. Delta is also collaborating with Altura Group in the development of an inland pumped storage hydro project located near Lincoln Gap in South Australia.

Overall, NSW is looking to propel large-scale renewables and energy storage, as it is faced with an urgent need to replace its aging and unreliable coal power stations. Last week, the NSW government officially launched a $55 million energy program – the Emerging Energy Program, seeking to ensure the state’s energy security and orderly energy transition.