New South Wales’ Department of Planning has approved plans to add a $117 million 55MW solar project to the ageing Vales Point coal plant on Lake Macquarie.
The project, which was flagged over a year ago, is expected to help extend the life of Vales Point, and allow it to continue to operate past its technical closure date of 2029, when it will turn 50.
Vales Point was was bought from the NSW government by Delta Electricity – the company founded by energy consultant Trevor St Baker and coal baron Brian Flannery in 2015 – for just $1 million.
The company said this week that the solar farm was being designed to help to bridge any shortfall brought about by the closure of coal-fired power stations.
“Delta recognises that both dispatchable power and low emission technologies have a role to play in supporting an affordable, reliable and sustainable national electricity grid,” said company secretary Steve Gurney.
For Vales Point, the 55MW of PV panels will be installed on a 80 hectare area of rehabilitated ash dam that forms part of the broader power station site – a project that will support 100 construction jobs. Work is expected to begin early in 2019.