A proposal of $336 million, with a promise of generation of 1200 local jobs, may make Townsville the first solar farm in Australia. The news is that HydroSun has submitted a proposal to install a floating solar farm on Ross Dam to Townsville City Council.
The proposal proposes installation of around 33,400 separate ‘floats’ on the water that are supposed to generate up to 200MW an hour.
Soren Lunoe, chairman HydroSun, expects that from the proposal the council would become a retailer of electricity by holding a high-voltage generator. The farm would also harness electricity to water pumps at Burdekin Dam. There will be around 400 containers each with a half MW per hour battery made of Vanadium; all around the shore of the dam.
Julia Creek is targeted by HydroSun for the mining of Vanadium to be used in the batteries at the proposed shore; moreover these are double the size of normal Li-ion batteries. Mr. Lunoe is the man behind the invention of floating solar panels who invented it around 12 years ago. His analysis reports that floating solar panel are 20% more efficient than those on the ground. The reason is the additional heat that is captured by the panels at the ground while floating panels capture less heat as the water cools down the panels.
The council’s win will be just the start for HydroSun; it is planning to propose the same to State and Federal Government for funding and ownership. Sources say that HydroSun has already spoken to many politicians from the state and federal government, including the Prime Minister’s office, Opposition Spokesman for energy and Climate change Mark Butler, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, One Nation MP Steve Dickson, and Kennedy MP Bob Katter.
James Cook University is also looking forward to work on the environmental impacts of this project, said Mr. Lunoe.
Mr Lunoe advocates the council to become a generator and retailer of electricity using the plant. The proposal estimates the effective cost of the generation of electricity is $83 per MW per hour that can save the council around $22 million a year.
The electricity generated from this project is supposed to be used to pump the water from Burdekin and consequently reduce electricity costs. Usage of sunshine to do this is better and also cheaper to pump the water with the energy. Additionally, this will curtail the water related problems of Townsville and provide cheaper energy to the locals.
Anthony Tucker, business development manager if JCU Division of research and innovation had spoken to HydroSun and he holds certain thoughts about the feasibility of the plan. Water security, water quality and job creation are the primary goals according to Tucker. He said that the first thing is to determine whether the technology is effective in the given region along with the challenges it is going to face.
Mr. Frydenberg, spoke to HydroSun in June, is rather neutral about it. He said that they welcome new projects which can deliver as we transition to a lower-emissions future.