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Vast Solar has signed a joint development agreement with Stanwell Corporation for its $600 million North West Queensland Hybrid Power Project.

The agreement includes funding for a $10 million feasibility study for the proposed dispatchable renewable energy project in Mount Isa.

This is a major step forward for the project and the North West Minerals Province,” Vast Solar chief executive officer Craig Wood said.

“Our partnership with Stanwell is underpinned by the attractiveness of the project and we are pleased they can see the benefits it will bring to their customers, the local economy and the wider energy market.”

The development of the 50MW power plant in Mount Isa is expected to bring hundreds of construction jobs to the area during a two-year build, and dozens of permanent skilled jobs over the 30-year operational life of the plant.

“We’re ensuring the project is developed in conjunction with local contractors and government wherever possible,” Mr Wood said.

Vast Solar has had teams working on the ground with local contractors since July 2020, executing testing to ensure the viability of the project prior to this more detailed feasibility study.

The company said initial findings were positive, with reports confirming ideal conditions for Vast Solar’s concentrated solar thermal power technology.

The joint feasibility study is expected to be completed late this year, with approvals early in 2022 followed by a two-year construction phase. 

Vast Solar said electricity consumers would start to benefit from low-cost, reliable, clean energy from 2023 due to a staggered construction program that would bring some elements of the hybrid into production earlier than the total plant.

Stanwell chief executive officer Richard Van Breda said projects like the North West Queensland Hybrid Power Project were integral to the development and diversification of the corporation’s energy portfolio around the state.

“Our involvement in the feasibility study reflects our ongoing commitment to the people of Mount Isa and Queensland, and to the environment,” he said. ­

“This project illustrates our values by delivering a better Queensland through transitioning to a lower carbon future while still contributing to the economy, creating jobs and delivering low-cost energy to homes and businesses.”

PIC: Testwork for the Vast Solar project being carried out in Mount Isa in 2020.