Australia: $2bn target for company behind bold indigenous power project

The indigenous company proposing a 1000MW “clean” coal plant in north Queensland says it is confident of raising $2 billion in ­finance before the next state election. The ambitious timeline to reach “financial close” will test the commitment of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to the construction of a new coal-fired power station after she described the federal election result as a “wake-up call” for Labor over lengthy delays to the Adani coalmine. Representatives from Shine ­Energy, including chief executive Ashley Dodd, met with senior officials from the Energy Department in Brisbane yesterday to discuss the $10 million promised by Scott Morrison before the election for a bankable feasibility study into the project.

Mr Dodd said he was hopeful of raising $2bn to build the proposed Dhalgan Energy Park by October 2020, when the next state election is due, and said it would help to provide new economic opportunities for thousands of traditional landowners.

“We want to reach financial close by October next year. That’s our aim and we will push really hard to get it there,” he told The Weekend Australian. “Liddell is shutting in 2022. And we want to have the first unit commissioned by 2022. It’s now moving forward so we can actually get it done. “The federal government has delivered on its promise to the Australian people.” The new coal plant is planned for Collinsville in the electorate of Capricornia, held by LNP MP Michelle Landry, and would couple a new ultra-supercritical coal plant with a solar PV farm.

Shine Energy says the project would create 2000 jobs in the construction phase and 600 permanent jobs in operation and maintenance. Mr Dodd said it was agreed at yesterday’s meeting that the company would provide “high-level” information to the department before the end of the month about a series of documents it will need to finalise.

The $10m in funds is to flow in the new financial year. These documents include further detail on equity and debt contracts for the asset as well as the engineering, procurement and construction contracts for the building of the new plant. In addition, Shine Energy will provide further details about its planned power purchasing agreement contracts and a connection application, which is needed to link the power generation asset to the national electricity market.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan yesterday said it was “great to see progress on large-scale energy investment”. “More supply of electricity will help us lower power prices and that will keep manufacturing industries alive,” Senator Canavan said. “We said before the election we will back new investments in power, including in coal, and that’s why we are getting on with the job. “What I want to see from the Labor Party is not just words describing their love for coal, but also actions as well. “If the Labor Party support our coal industry, why wouldn’t they support the use of some of that coal to drive economic development for indigenous Australians and for north Queensland.”

Ms Landry said she was “very excited” about the new power station and said the meeting was “full of energy and positivity”. “I think this is going to be fantastic for Collinsville. They’ve gone through some hard times and this is the light at the end of the tunnel for them,” she said.