Shell to build first big solar plant in Australia as it moves into power production

MELBOURNE/SYDNEY  – Oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell said on Friday (Feb 7) it plans to build its first utility-scale solar farm in Australia, part of a global push into the power business and cleaner energy.

The 120 megawatt (MW) solar farm at Wandoan in the state of Queensland is expected to be completed in next year.

Shell will be the anchor customer for power from the project, partly for its nearby QGC coal-seam gas operation that feeds its QCLNG plant on Curtis Island.

“We believe solar will play an increasing role in the global system, especially when partnered with a reliable energy source such as gas,” Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan said in a statement.

The Hague-based company declined to comment on how much the solar project would cost.

The move follows Shell’s acquisition last year of Australian industrial electricity retailer ERM Power and a stake in Australian solar developer ESCO Pacific. It has said it plans to boost annual spending on its power to between US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) and US$3 billion by 2025.

Shell, which has set itself a to become the world’s top electricity producer by 2030, said the 400,000-panel solar farm’s location at Wandoan, around 400km west of Brisbane, was selected “due to its natural advantages for solar generation,” as well as its close proximity to existing power infrastructure and the QCG facility, Shell said.

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