Collinsville gets $9.5 million for solar projects. Residents hope to transform the coal mining town into Australia’s solar capital.

The downturn in the resources sector impacted a number of mining regions in Australia. One of the most affected is Collinsville, a small town in north Queensland. Luckily, the town sees hope again with Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) confirming $9.5 million for solar projects.

ARENA funds the 70MW Whitsunday Solar Farm of Edify Energy and 443MW Collinsville Solar Project of RATCH Australia. What’s so exciting about these solar projects is that these possess the scale and size needed to make Collinsville Australia’s solar capital.

From a coal mining town to solar capital, Collinsville is sure to go a long way.

The Collinsville advantage over other towns

The town sits on a region blessed with 300 days of sunshine per year. It’s no secret that North Queensland’s radiation levels are ideal for solar projects. This is why solar companies compete to land projects on Collinsville.

Edify Energy’s John Cole said their Collinsville site could generate twice the amount of power than a similar project in the UK and 5-10 per cent more than in Victoria or NSW.

Aside from plenty of sunshine, Collinsville has the advantage of having a decommissioned power station on its outskirts. Solar companies plan to use this station to pump energy directly into the Queensland grid.

Jobs for Collinsville residents

The last four years have been especially difficult for the residents of the town. The volatile coal price forced mines to hire and lay off workers from time to time. So once the solar projects begin, residents are looking forward to having jobs.

The Edify Energy project hopes to generate around 200 much-needed jobs. However, very few will keep their jobs once the solar farm is completed. Hence, it won’t make the town completely free from coal mines employment. Coal mines will still be Collinsville’s biggest employers.

But Collinsville government and residents are not losing hope. Local councilor Peter Ramage said the town used to power the north with coal. They can also do that with solar.