Energy majors make shortlist for 1 GW renewables project

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Spanish energy giant Acciona Energia, Italy’s Enel Green Power and a joint bid from Australian energy heavyweight Origin and Sydney-based renewables outfit Energy Estate have been shortlisted to deliver what would be one of Queensland’s largest renewable energy projects.

QEM said the bidding process to deliver the 1 GW capacity project had generated strong interest and commercial negotiations with the shortlisted parties will commence later this month.

QEM Managing Director Gavin Loyden said the company had prioritised the design and development of the renewables project with the primary objective of obtaining low-cost power for its flagship Julia Creek project.

“Critical minerals like vanadium are vital for the global transition to clean energy,” he said. “The opportunity for QEM and the broader North West Minerals Province is to harness the region’s wind and solar resource above the ground to explore, develop and refine the critical minerals under it.”

The proposed wind and solar project would not only deliver energy to the proposed mine but also connect into the $5 billion CopperString transmission line that is to link Queensland’s isolated northwest to Australia’s national grid.

The transmission project, being delivered by Queensland government-owned network operator Powerlink, is expected to link an estimated 6 GW of renewable energy resources into the National Electricity Market while also opening up access to large deposits of minerals seen as key to the energy transition.

Colin Langton, director of operations of the CopperString project at Powerlink said the “scale of renewable generation at Julia Creek will be integral to the overall CopperString project.”

“With the high quality and enormous potential scale of renewables in the area, the north and northwest is well positioned to become the future powerhouse of Queensland,” he said.

QEM said it has been conducting wind and solar monitoring at the Julia Creek site for the past 12 months to de-risk the hybrid wind and solar project. Environmental assessments, topographic surveys, preliminary flood modelling and geotechnical studies have also been completed.

Loyden said the “highly encouraging” monitoring results would form a crucial component of the pre-feasibility study for the proposed renewables project.

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