Friday, October 15, 2010

Bligh bats for PNG hydro-power plan

QUEENSLAND premier Anna Bligh has talked up the potential of two big renewable energy projects in North Queensland and Papua New Guinea’s Purari River, saying they could help the region take the “next giant leap forward”, The National reports.

She also quelled fears the PNG scheme could hurt renewable energy proposals in North Queensland, saying the two schemes were complementary.

The 50-50 owned Australian-based energy company Origin Energy and PNG Sustainable Development Program’s ambitious plans to build a multi-billion-dollar hydro-electric plant in Gulf   near Purari River and send the electricity back to Australia via an undersea cable have not impressed investors or analysts.

The Townsville Bulletin yesterday, reporting on Bligh’s six-day visit to the North Queensland, said a host of renewable energy projects had been mooted along what had been dubbed the clean energy corridor between Townsville and Mount Isa.

A BIS Schrapnel report has found there was potential for 900MW of installed renewable capacity to be connected to the grid through an AC transmission line by 2015-16 - 300MW in baseload power from biomass and solar thermal sources and another 600MW from wind power.

The newspaper reported that Origin Energy was assessing the potential for an 1800MW hydro-electric scheme on the Purari River in PNG and exporting power into Australia’s energy grid via a cable link to North Queensland by 2020.

There have been fears the PNG scheme could ruin plans for North Queensland schemes although Bligh and energy consultant John O’Brien, a director of one of the companies pushing development of the AC transmission line called the CopperString project, doused that yesterday.

Bligh said the two projects complemented one another while O’Brien said the increasing demand for electricity meant the region would need all the sources of power it could get to meet requirements.

“I think the Townsville community, particularly the business community, understands that reliable base-load power is critical to this economy taking its next great leap forward,” Bligh said.



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