In the last couple of weeks it was announced that the state’s largest solar farm will be constructed at Ouyen. Total Eren – a partnership between a traditional fossil fuel company and renewable energy company has been given the go-ahead to build a 100MW battery energy storage system. Once construction on the Kiamal Solar Farm is completed, it will be the State’s largest solar facility and one of the largest in Australia. The 200MW solar farm is part of the first stage of the entire Kiamal renewable energy project, which has a possible future expansion to up to 350MW.
Canada and the United States (despite them pulling out of the Paris agreement) are setting the bar for upcycling, after taking their largest coal sites and transforming them into solar farms, in a bid to tackle intensifying climate change.
The government in Ontario, Canada has begun transforming what was North America’s biggest coal power station into a renewable energy hub, building more than 200,000 solar panels. While Washington state has also announced plans to convert the US state’s largest coal mine into a solar farm which would generate 180MW of energy and create 300 local jobs.
As we well know, once closed, ageing coal stations not only take employment opportunities with them, but also leave a massive scar on the land. These projects show renewable leadership, transforming old mines into clean energy hubs and in doing so, breathe life back into these regions.
Australia has begun the transition away from polluting, ageing and unreliable fossil fuels such as coal, but on a global scale we are clearly trailing behind. Australia is one of the sunniest and windiest places in the world so making the switch to renewables and battery storage just makes sense.
Projects such as Kidston, a rural Queensland town, is taking an abandoned gold mine and converting it into a world-first solar and storage project, creating enough energy to power 280,000 Aussie homes. Projects like this show that there is plenty happening in this space, even if the Federal Government is struggling with understanding its position.
Australia is sitting at an energy crossroads with 70% of our coal infrastructure set to hit 50 years or older by 2040. We are ow seeing a lot of renewable projects now being developed – particularly in regional areas where wind and solar farms are suitable. There is still, of course, a lot of work to do to ensure that we have the right infrastructure to support these projects, but they do provide regions with jobs and economic development opportunities.