The non-operational Collinsville Power Station.
The non-operational Collinsville Power Station. Peter Carruthers

Feasibility study of power options is promising for CQ

THE Federal Government has breathed new life into the possibility of a coal-fired power station in Central Queensland with the commencement of a $10 million program to fund a business case focusing on short and long-term customer energy requirements and future generation opportunities to meet customer needs.

The feasibility study will develop a detailed roadmap and identify viable locations for firm generation including coal, gas, pumped hydro, and biomass opportunities, including Collinsville and Gladstone.

The program would address supply and affordability issues specifically for high energy-intensive and trade-exposed customers in North and Central Queensland but the government would not be directly involved in the construction of energy generation facilities.

The government will conduct detailed evaluation and feasibility of projects in North and Central Queensland as part of the Underwriting New Generation Investments program.

Projects under the microscope would include a new high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal plant project in Collinsville, upgrades of existing generators as well as gas and hydro projects.

A report in The Australian last week identified environmental benefits of HELE plants currently being used in Shanghai and found if the rest of the world's generated power was achieved using HELE plants, Global Co2 emissions would reduce by two gigatonnes each year.

For scale, that would completely neutralise India's entire carbon emissions footprint, yearly.

Senator Matt Canavan gave Sky News a run down of the project and said a proponent of traditional owners was gearing up to get the Collinsville project off the ground.

"There's a proponent at Collinsville who wants to build a power station there," he said.

"It's just that they're not ready for it yet. They're not in the position yet to access the direct underwriting offer that we've got. What they'd like to see is move to a business case so they can up to a stage where they can get an external debt finance.

"Through our process, we're seeking to support projects. The government's not building power stations.

"The government's not in there laying the concrete itself and designing up the plans. What we're doing is facilitating and supporting that and because we haven't had progression of these projects in North and Central Queensland for many years, there's bit more work to do and that's we're doing and focused on."

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry hoped the program would also take a knife to Central Queensland's high power prices.

"The coal-fired power station up in Collinsville and the proposed mine have been talking about this for a while now and all they needed was the money for a feasibility study," she said

"I would really like to see this go ahead up in Collinsville. It ticks all the boxes. There has already been talks about Glencore supplying the coal directly to the the power station."

Despite her optimism for the operation, she backed the need for a feasibility study regardless.

"Obviously things like this need to make money," she said.

"We need to make sure it will be financially viable and that the need is there.

"What we really want to see is cheaper power for industry and personal consumers."

The government's UNGIP is a direct response to recommendation four of the ACCC Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry, and is part of our broader policy, it hopes will provide cheaper power for all energy users.

In addition, the LNP said the program would focus on:

. Network infrastructure requirements,

. Energy use requirements - specifically the ability for large trade exposed energy users to obtain long-term contracts that would allow them to remain competitive,

. Contractual mechanisms,

. Government programs, policies and support options, and

. Jobs, wages and investment impacts of supporting affordable and reliable energy options.