Shell will use the electricity generated by the Gangarri solar farm to offset carbon emissions from its QGC project by around 300,000 tonnes.
Shell will use the electricity generated by the Gangarri solar farm to offset carbon emissions from its QGC project by around 300,000 tonnes.

Shell commits to bigger role for renewables in CQ

RENEWABLES are set to play a bigger role in Central Queensland after a major commitment to solar by one of Australia's leading natural gas companies.

Shell Australia will build its Gangarri solar farm in Central Queensland, and the energy produced will be used to offset emissions from its QGC gas venture.

It is the company's first industrial-scale solar project, and the electricity produced will be sold to the national electricity grid.

"Shell will buy back the equivalent amount of electricity generated by the Gangarri solar farm to offset the carbon emissions from its QGC project by around 300,000 tonnes a year," a spokesman said.

As well as an LNG export facility on Curtis Island, QGC's operations include more than 2,600 production wells and six central processing plants.

Currently natural gas is used to power turbines that create energy for LNG plants on the island, and the Federal Government has committed $1.5 million toward exploring electrification.

"We are happy to engage with the federal and state governments, and other regulators, to consider the feasibility of this project," a spokesman for Shell said.

Natural gas will continue to play a key role in Australia's energy mix as more renewable energy comes online, according to Australia's chief scientist, Alan Finkel.

In an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Dr Finkel said that as renewables scaled up, there needed to be an energy companion "that could react rapidly to changes in solar and wind output".

"In the short-term, as the Prime Minister and Minister Angus Taylor have previously stated, natural gas will play that critical role," he said.

The Gangarri solar farm will be built near Wandoan and generate 120 megawatts of solar electricity from about 400,000 photovoltaic panels.

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

"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."

The project will create up to 200 new jobs during construction and is expected to be completed in early 2021.

It is one of a number of solar projects in the works for Central Queensland.

Construction on the Rodds Bay solar farm, approximately 50km south of Gladstone, is likely to begin this year.

Work on the Aldoga Solar farm in the Gladstone State Development Area is expected to begin in early 2021.

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