Solar May Rise From The Ashes At Vales Point

Vales Point Power Station

Vales Point Power Station | Image: Public Domain

A 45MW solar farm could soon be built on an old ash dam at a coal fired power station on the southern shores of Lake Macquarie in New South Wales.

Vales Point Ash Dam (VPAD) was originally associated with the Vales Point ‘A’ power station, which was built in the 1960’s. ‘B’ station was added in the late 1970’s and at that point, Vales Point was the largest coal-fired electricity generator in the country.

Vales Point ‘A’ was decommissioned in 1989, but the B station continues operating today.

In December 2015, the sale of Vales Point Power Station by the New South Wales Government to Sunset Power International, trading as Delta Electricity, was finalised. It was sold for the princely sum of $1 million, but part of the agreement involved the new owners continuing to take responsibility for the operation and rehabilitation of the coal ash dam.

Closed cells of the ash dam have been capped with soil and planted with native grasses. It’s in these areas, approximately 70 hectares in total, that the proposed solar power station  consisting of 170,000 solar panels will be constructed; generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes.

The $30 million solar project is expected to create 100 construction jobs over 18 months and 5 full time ongoing positions.

However, the project is not a done deal, even if environmental and development approvals are obtained. It will only be after the approvals that a final investment decision will be made. If the project does proceed, construction could commence next year.

According to the Newcastle Herald, the solar farm could outlive the coal power station, which is scheduled for closure in 2029. Delta Electricity company secretary Steve Gurney said there is also potential for expansion of solar capacity at a later date.

The Chair of Sunset Power International is Trevor St Baker. We mentioned Mr. St Baker recently in connection with Printed Energy; which announced in June it was collaborating with the University of New South Wales and University of Queensland on a project to develop printed batteries that could eventually be integrated on the back of solar panels. Printed Energy is an investee company of St Baker Energy Innovation Fund, founded by Mr. St Baker.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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