Shell to build first solar farm down under
As Big Oil continues to diversify in the wake of environmental, social and legislative pressures, Shell Australia has announced the construction of its first solar farm in the country.
The farm, to be situated in Queensland, will have an annual capacity of 120MW across around 400,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels. With the project due to become operational in 2021, the construction phase will generate 200 new jobs for the local economy.
Queensland is known as one of the world’s most consistently sunny regions, making it an ideal location for PV-based power generation. The challenge is how that energy is transmitted across such vast space with limited, or simply outmoded, infrastructure.
Shell Australia has therefore based its first Australian solar farm next to existing infrastructure that sits within range of its Shell QGC (Queensland Gas Company) onshore natural gas project which it acquired in 2016.
“We are proud to be investing in the ‘Sunshine State’ and Queensland is a key centre of activity for Shell’s global ambition to expand our integrated power business. Shell’s Gangarri solar farm will help power the operations of our QGC project and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 300,000 tonnes a year,” said Tony Nunan, Shell Australia Chairman, in the company’s press release.
“This project will create local jobs in a range of skilled trades, including electricians, machinists and operators. We recognise the need to play an active role in creating the local talent, skills and opportunities that will be critical for regional Queensland to realise its potential as a renewable energy powerhouse.”
Greg Joiner, Vice President for Shell Energy in Australia, added: “Solar is one of the building blocks of Shell’s power strategy.
“We are increasingly incorporating renewable energy into customer offers, as we have done here for QGC, by combining renewable energy with a firmed energy solution offering reliable supply, a fixed price and a cleaner lower emission package.”
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.