The Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s Emerging Renewables Program will invest in a feasibility study that is investigating the conversion of Collinsville Power Station into a hybrid gas/solar thermal plant.

Federal Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson announced that the Federal Government will contribute $2.5 million towards the feasibility study, spearheaded by RATCH-Australia Corporation (RAC).

The study, with a total cost of $5.6 million, will assess the viability of converting Queensland’s 180 MW coal-fired Collinsville Power Station to a 30 MW hybrid solar thermal/gas power station with the help of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

A key benefit of the project will be the production of knowledge that will help accelerate the deployment of concentrating solar thermal in Australia through hybrid projects, according to Mr Ferguson.

“Such information will include the overall technical feasibility of converting thermal coal fired power stations to solar thermal plants, its costs, the solar yield, network connection and other issues,” said Mr Ferguson.

“RAC is aiming to use, where possible, existing plant infrastructure, which would generate significant cost savings relative to the costs of constructing a new plant. The feasibility study will help other generators to assess the possibility of using solar thermal technologies at coal-fired plants.”

RAC will examine the feasibility of using Novatec Solar’s Linear Fresnel Solar Thermal technology to generate steam to be used in a steam turbine at the Collinsville Power Station.

The University of Queensland will contribute to the feasibility study through a research program that investigates the potential early stage operation and any commissioning issues.