A novel plan for a 50 megawatt hybrid Concentrated Solar Power project in Mount Isa has got financial backing from Queensland government-owned energy giant Stanwell Energy.

The $600 million project, proposed last year by thermal solar specialist Vast Solar, would mix a unique brand of concentrated thermal solar generation with solar PV, gas peaking and a battery to provide power to Mount Isa and the wider North West Minerals Province, which is cut off from the National Energy Market.

Under the joint development agreement announced today, Stanwell will initially provide $5 million towards a feasibility study, with Vast Solar also providing $5 million. The study will examine logistical details, planning requirements, customer off-take, and financing.

Vast Solar chief executive Craig Wood said the study would be finished by the end of the year, and the project would then be ready to take to shareholders for approval.

All going well, he said construction should begin in the second quarter of 2022. He said the plan was for Stanwell to continue as a partner into the construction phase, though that was yet to be negotiated formally.

“It’s a big deal for Vast Solar to be partnered with the largest generator in Queensland. They have a lot of experience in operating assets commercially in the Mount Isa region. It’s a terrific thing to be allied with them,” he said.