The Copperstring 2.0 project is a 1,100-kilometre high-voltage transmission line stretching from Mt Isa to Townsville in Queensland’s north and advocates say it will serve to unlock some of the state’s enormous clean energy potential.
Hailed as the nation’s largest geographical expansion of the NEM, the $1.5 billion transmission link would integrate the state’s isolated north-west power supply with North Queensland and the rest of the state’s electricity network.
The latest funding injection will allow for development activities to continue and help progress the project to final investment decision in 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding, which builds on a $14.8 million boost from the State Government in 2020, will help deliver an “important energy project” for Queensland.
“Our support for CopperString is an investment in the future of Queensland that will bring power prices down, create 750 direct construction jobs and unlock the significant economic potential of the north west minerals province,” he said.
“Access to affordable and reliable energy supply will help drive new investment and new opportunities, providing a long-term future for families, businesses and local communities from Townsville to Mount Isa.”
The announcement was welcomed by community group Solar Citizens, with energy strategist Stephanie Gray saying the project will mean cheap solar and wind energy can power new industry in Queensland’s north.
Gray did however take the chance to criticise the Federal Government’s energy credentials, saying the Prime Minister is “misleading Queenslanders on the potential for new coal generation” with talk of a new coal plant in Collinsville, south of Townsville.
“It’s wonderful to see the Morrison Government investing in key infrastructure that will allow more solar and wind projects to come online and provide cheaper energy to Queensland’s industry,” she said.
“But while the government is backing cheap renewable energy for industry, the Prime Minister is still talking about a new coal generator that just doesn’t stack up.
“There’s a reason that no new coal-fired power stations have been built in Australia in the last 10 years. Solar and wind are the cheapest source of new electricity and that’s where investors are putting their money.”
Sydney-based Vast Solar is among those who have identified Queensland’s north west for investment with plans to develop a $600 million hybrid power plant in Mount Isa.
The project will combine solar PV, a large-scale battery and gas engines with a 50 MW solar thermal facility.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said by extending the NEM from Townsville across the north to Mount Isa, CopperString will underpin thousands of mining and industrial manufacturing jobs and stimulate large-scale renewable energy investment.
“Connecting North Queensland with the National Electricity Market will help deliver lower cost, reliable power to our important job-creating and export-oriented regional industries and increase opportunities for the many other energy projects along the corridor,” he said.
CopperString will help the Queensland Government build out its Northern Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).
Unveiled last year as part of a $145 million plan to establish three REZs across the state, the Northern REZ has significant potential for long-term renewable energy development with some of the strongest wind and solar resources in the state and country.
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